Real-Space Imaging of Nucleation and Growth in Colloidal Crystallization

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Science  13 Apr 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5515, pp. 258-262
DOI: 10.1126/science.1058457

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Crystallization of concentrated colloidal suspensions was studied in real space with laser scanning confocal microscopy. Direct imaging in three dimensions allowed identification and observation of both nucleation and growth of crystalline regions, providing an experimental measure of properties of the nucleating crystallites. By following their evolution, we identified critical nuclei, determined nucleation rates, and measured the average surface tension of the crystal-liquid interface. The structure of the nuclei was the same as the bulk solid phase, random hexagonal close-packed, and their average shape was rather nonspherical, with rough rather than faceted surfaces.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: gasser{at}

  • Present address: Physics Department, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.

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