Molecular architecture influences on material properties of pharmaceutical compounds

  • Miren Ramirez

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Salt formation has extensively been studied as a strategy to improve drug solubility but it has not been explored as a strategy to improve mechanical properties. A better understanding of which factors of the solid state can have an influence in the mechanical properties of pharmaceutical powders can help to optimise and reduce cost of tablet manufacturing. The aim of this study was to form different series of amine salts of flurbiprofen, gemfibrozil and diclofenac and to establish predictive relationships between architectural characteristics and physicochemical and mechanical properties of the salts. For this purpose, three different carboxylic acid drugs were selected: flurbiprofen, gemfibrozil and diclofenac, similar in size but varying in flexibility and shape and three different series of counterions were also chosen: one with increasing bulk and no hydroxyl groups to limit the hydrogen bonding potential; a second one with increasing number of hydroxyl groups and finally a third series, related to the latter in number of hydroxyl groups but with different molecular shape and flexibility. Physico-chemical characterization was performed (DSC, TGA, solubility, intrinsic dissolution rate, particle size, true density) and mechanical properties measured using a compaction replicator. Strained molecular conformations produce weaker compacts as they have higher energy than preferred conformations that usually lie close to energy minimums and oppose plastic deformation. It was observed that slip planes, which correspond to regions of weakest interaction between the planes, were associated with improved plasticity and stronger compacts. Apart from hydrogen bonds, profuse van der Waals forces can result in ineffective slip planes. Salts displaying two-dimensional densely hydrogen bonded layers produced stronger compacts than salts showing one-dimensional networks of non-bonded columns, probably by reducing the attachment energy between layers. When hydrogen bonds are created intramolecularly, it is possible that the mechanical properties are compromised as they do not contribute so much to create twodimensional densely bonded layers and they can force molecules into strained conformations. Some types of hydrogen bonding network may be associated with improved mechanical properties, such as type II, or R (10) 3 4 using graph-set notation, versus type III, or R (12) 4 8 , columns. This work clearly demonstrates the potential of investigating crystal structure-mechanical property relationship in pharmaceutical materials.
Date of AwardSept 2010
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorBarbara R Conway (Supervisor) & Carl H Schwalbe (Supervisor)


  • Molecular architecture influences
  • material properties of pharmaceutical compounds

Cite this