Caprolactam, a precursor to nylon-6 has been investigated as part of our studies into the polymerization of materials at high pressure. Single-crystal X-ray and neutron powder diffraction data have been used to explore the high-pressure phase behavior of caprolactam and we have observed two new high pressure solid forms. The transition between each of the forms requires a substantial rearrangement of the molecules and we observe that the kinetic barrier to the conversion can aid retention of phases beyond their region of stability. Form II of caprolactam shows a small pressure region of stability between 0.5 and 0.9 GPa with Form III being stable from 0.9 GPa to 5.4 GPa. The two high-pressure forms have a catemeric hydrogen-bonding pattern compared with the dimer interaction observed in the ambient pressure Form I. The interaction between the chains has a marked effect on the directions of maximal compressibility in the structure. Neither of the high-pressure forms can be recovered to ambient pressure and there is no evidence of any polymerization occurring.
- high-pressure single-crystal X-ray diffraction
- high-pressure neutron diffraction
- phase transitions
- intermolecular interactions
- energy frameworks