Elastic caffeine

The bitter but stimulating alkaloid caffeine has revealed an intriguing property to chemists in India. Malla Reddy and Soumyajit Ghosh at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Kolkata were crystallizing caffeine with 4-chloro-3-nitrobenzoic acid when they stumbled on the fact that the process leads to a highly elastic material, yet crystalline, material that remains flexible even at temperatures as low as -100 Celsius. The discovery might open up a new way to make flexible electronic or micromechanical materials that exploit the highly ordered nature of crystals to improve energy and charge transfer properties but retain the flexibility of other substances.