Low-Frequency Vibrational Spectroscopy and Quantum Mechanical Simulations of the Crystalline Polymorphs of the Antiviral Drug Ribavirin

Margaret P. Davis, Timothy M. Korter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Crystal polymorphism is a common phenomenon in pharmaceutical solids and a critical issue when considering the formulation of therapeutics since multiple polymorphs may form during drug manufacturing. Low-frequency vibrational spectroscopy is sensitive to polymorphic content, and in this work, terahertz time-domain spectroscopy and low-frequency Raman spectroscopy were utilized in the study of crystalline ribavirin, a widely applicable antiviral. Characteristic spectra with numerous peaks in the sub-200 cm-1 region were obtained of the more common polymorph of ribavirin (Form II). Solid-state density functional theory (ss-DFT) simulations were then used to optimize the crystal structure of this polymorph and calculate the frequencies and spectral intensities of the lattice vibrations in the low-frequency region. The near-harmonic thermal behavior of the sample with cooling enabled excellent agreement between experiment and theory to be achieved, emphasizing the quality of the applied model, and the observed spectral peaks could be assigned to specific atomic motions in the solid. Form I and Form II polymorphs of ribavirin were both investigated with ss-DFT to understand the different aspects governing the relative stabilities of these solids. The ss-DFT simulations of the polymorph energies revealed that Form II is more stable at all temperatures due to a stronger cohesive energy than Form I; however, ribavirin in Form I has a significantly lower conformational energy. The finding of monotropism appears to conflict with the reported enantiotropism of the ribavirin polymorphs but ultimately confirms that crystal defects in the real samples greatly affect the thermodynamic relationship of the crystals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3385-3393
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 5 2022


  • computational chemistry
  • crystallography
  • far-infrared spectroscopy
  • periodic boundary conditions
  • phase transition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery


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