Computational Techniques for Predicting Mechanical Properties of Organic Crystals: A Systematic Evaluation

Chenguang Wang, Changquan Calvin Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Understanding of the structure-mechanical properties relationship in organic crystals can potentially facilitate the design of crystals with desired mechanical properties through crystal engineering. To understand and predict crystal mechanical properties, including tableting behavior, a number of computational methods have been developed to analyze crystal structure. These include visualization, attachment energy calculation, topological analysis, energy framework, and elasticity tensor calculation. However, different methods often lead to conflicting predictions. There is a need for a computational tool kit for predicting crystal mechanical properties from crystal structures. Using α-oxalic acid anhydrous (OAA) and dihydrate (OAD) as a model system, we have systematically compared their predictive accuracy of the mechanical properties, experimentally determined using powder compaction and nanoindentation. We have found that crystal plasticity can be accurately predicted based on energy framework combined with topological analysis and DFT calculated elasticity tensor. Although very useful in characterizing crystal packing features, structure visualization, topology analysis, and attachment energy calculations alone are insufficient for accurately identifying the slip planes and predicting mechanical properties and tableting behavior of organic crystals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1732-1741
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular pharmaceutics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019


  • computational prediction
  • intermolecular interaction
  • mechanical property
  • nanoindentation
  • organic crystal
  • structural analysis

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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