Prof. Dr. Helmut Cölfen

Drip by drip

An experiment at the University of Konstanz shows non-classical growth of crystals – the result will have implications for basic research as well as for practical applications

How do crystals grow? The answer given in current textbooks is: Layer by layer atoms or molecules
settle on an existing crystal surface. The research team Physical Chemistry at the University
of Konstanz has now observed a preliminary stage of this crystal growth in glutamic acid that contradicts this classical principal of growth. Not individual atoms settle on an existing crystal surface, but nano-drips that already contain building blocks for growth. This might considerably speed up crystal growth that is of major importance in a number of materials and applications. The liquid state of the building blocks in the preliminary stage might also accelerate the effectiveness of medicines. The results have been published in the current issue of the scientific journal Nature Communications on 21 June 2017. Read more...