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Zeitschrift für Kristallographie - Crystalline Materials

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Volume 232, Issue 1-3 (Feb 2017)


Fundamental theoretical and practical investigations of the polymorph formation of small amphiphilic molecules, their co-crystals and salts

Thomas Martin
  • Universität Bayreuth, Universitätsstrasse 30, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany
/ Paul Niemietz
  • Universität Bayreuth, Universitätsstrasse 30, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany
/ Dominik Greim
  • Universität Bayreuth, Universitätsstrasse 30, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany
/ Philipp Ectors
  • Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Nägelsbachstrasse 25, 91052 Erlangen, Germany
/ Jürgen Senker
  • Corresponding author
  • Universität Bayreuth, Universitätsstrasse 30, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany
  • Email:
/ Dirk Zahn
  • Corresponding author
  • Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Nägelsbachstrasse 25, 91052 Erlangen, Germany
  • Email:
/ Josef Breu
  • Corresponding author
  • Universität Bayreuth, Universitätsstrasse 30, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany
  • Email:
Published Online: 2016-08-17 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zkri-2016-1977


The amphiphilic nature of benzoic acid, benzoates and benzamide causes an unexpected rich polymorphism. Featuring rather rigid and small molecular structures these compounds are ideal model systems for gaining a more fundamental understanding of molecular polymorphism by systematic and concerted investigations. The hydrophilic head allows for hydrogen bonding while the phenyl moiety gives rise to various π-stacking modes. Variations of hydrogen bonding versus π-stacking modes give rise to four polymorphs of benzamide. The central synthon in all phases is a dimer where hydrophilic units form double hydrogen bonds. As suggested by MD simulations of the nucleation process, variations of the crystallization conditions trigger whether the first self-assembly occurs via the hydrophilic head or the hydrophophic tail groups. Based on NMR crystallographic investigations for the co-crystallization of benzamide with benzoic acid, we observed yet another variation of the balance of the two dominating intermolecular interactions leading to the formation of a 1:1 co-crystal. The average crystal structure resembles the packing motive of pure benzoic acid with alternating ribbons of homogenous benzamide and benzoic acid dimers. For alkali-benzoate salts a coordination dilemma arises that is of general importance for many active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). A 1:1 stoichiometry requires condensation of coordination polyhedra of small inorganic cations which in turn causes steric stress that varies with the relative volumes of cation and anion. Interestingly, one way of resolving the dilemma is microphase separation which is directly related to the amphiphilic character of benzoate.

This article offers supplementary material which is provided at the end of the article.

Keywords: amphiphilic molecules; benzamide; benzoate; benzoic acid; co-crystal; crystal structure; polymorphism


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About the article

Received: 2016-06-10

Accepted: 2016-08-02

Published Online: 2016-08-17

Published in Print: 2017-02-01

Citation Information: Zeitschrift für Kristallographie - Crystalline Materials, ISSN (Online) 2196-7105, ISSN (Print) 2194-4946, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zkri-2016-1977. Export Citation

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