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  1. Metastable phases of the photoswitchable molecular magnet K0.3Co[Fe(CN)6]0.77 ⋅  nH2O in sub-micrometer particles have been structurally investigated by synchrotron powder x-ray diffraction (PXRD) measurements. The K0.3Co[Fe(CN)6]0.77 ⋅  nH2O bulk compound (studied here with a sample having average particle size of 500 nm) undergoes a charge transfer coupled spin transition (CTCST), where spin configurations change between a paramagnetic CoII( S = 3/2) –FeIII( S = 1/2) high-temperature (HT) state and a diamagnetic CoIII( S = 0) –FeII( S = 0) low-temperature (LT) state. The bulk compound exhibits a unique intermediate (IM) phase, which corresponds to a mixture of HT and LT spin states that depend on the cooling rate. Several hidden metastable HT states emerge as a function of thermal and photo stimuli, namely: (1) a quench (Q) state generated from the HT state by flash cooling, (2) a LTPX state obtained by photoexcitation from the LT state derived by thermal relaxation from the Q state, and (3) an IMPX state accessed by photo-irradiation from the IM state. A sample with a smaller particle size, 135 nm, is investigated for which the particles are on the scale of the coherent LT domains in the IM phase within the larger 500 nm sample. PXRD studies under controlled thermal and/or optical excitations have clarified that the reduction of the particle size profoundly affects the structural changes associated with the CTCST. The unusual IM state is also observed as segregated domains in the 135 nm particle, but the collective structural transformations are more hindered in small particles. The volume change decreases to 2%–3%, almost half the value found for 500 nm particles (5%–8%), even though the linear thermal expansion coefficients are larger for the smaller particles. Furthermore, photoexcitation from the IM and LT states does not turn into single phases in the smaller particles, presumably because of the multiple interfaces and/or internal stress generated by the coexistence of small CoII–FeIIIand CoIII–FeIIdomains in the lattice. Since the reduced particle size limits cooperativity and domain growth in the lattice, CTCST in the small particle sample becomes less sensitive to external stimuli.

     
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