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Facts at your Fingertips: Nucleation Phenomena in Crystallization

By Department editor, Scott Jenkins |

Industrial crystallization processes are widely used in the chemical process industries (CPI) for their ability to separate and purify products in a single step, often to greater than 99.9% purity. Crystal growth proceeds after nucleation, a molecular aggregation process whereby nuclei act as the centers for crystallization. This one-page reference provides information about the chemistry and physics of the nucleation step in crystallization processes, and its ultimate impact on solid crystal structure. The period between the establishment of supersaturation and the formation of nuclei in the solution plays a decisive role in determining the properties of the resulting solid products, including purity, crystal structure, polymorphic form and particle size. The type of nuclei that are formed and their rate of formation also influence the particle-size distribution of the crystal population, and other properties of the crystals, so control of the nucleation process is crucial in obtaining the required product specifications [1]. Cluster formation For nucleation to occur, solute molecules that are dispersed within the solvent must form clusters at nanometer scales that persist (are stable) under the given operating conditions. Supersaturation…
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