High-speed, single-pass thin-film electro-optic modulators could enhance the performance of a number of photonic devices, including free-space interconnects. Such a device could replace liquid crystal-based devices in applications where much higher speed is needed. Researchers at Auburn University in Alabama report in Applied Physics Letters that they used a novel method to prepare a single-crystal film of 49-dimethylamino-N-methyl-4-stilbazolium tosylate. The method involves immersing two substrates in a solution and moving one of them in respect to the other to apply a shear. The polar interaction between the substrate surface and the organizing molecules served as a catalyst for formation of single-crystal films.