Chemistry

Crystals via Liquids

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Science  04 Apr 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5616, pp. 19
DOI: 10.1126/science.300.5616.19a

Crystallization is used widely to isolate and purify molecules, but the early stages of nucleation and growth are not completely understood. Molecular dynamics simulations have suggested that a liquid-like state precedes crystal formation. A liquid phase has been observed to appear during crystallization of macromolecules, but evidence that small molecules behave similarly has been limited. Bonnett et al. observed liquid phase separation during crystallization of a methoxyacrylate from a water-methanol mixture as it cooled. Small drops of solute-rich liquid formed, and then crystals began to grow at the expense of the drops. This behavior is due not to kinetic effects but to a feature of the phase diagram that allows liquid-liquid phase separation before the onset of crystallization.—JFU

Chem. Commun.2003, 698 (2003).

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