Chemistry Blog



Aug 01

Crystals from IR Lasers

by mitch | Categories: Uncategorized | (36762 Views)

NPLIN with Agar

I was perusing Chem Feeds when this paper caught my eye with its snazzy abstract (right). The authors, Alexander et al., report crystallizing a supersatuated solution of KCl in agarose gel by using an IR laser. They are capable of crystallizing any pattern of interest by using a mask. The nice thing about using an IR laser is it won’t cause your solute to have side photochemical reactions from this process.

Although the highlight of the paper is its potential use as a 2d or 3d method of controlled crystallization, I wonder how well the general method of nonphotochemical laser induced nucleation (NPLIN) is at crystallizing stubborn molecules that normally are a pain to crystallize at the bench. Any new tricks that will decrease the time it takes to make nice crystals would be appreciated by myself and I’m sure others…

Link to Alexander et al.’s JACS paper: Spatial Control of Crystal Nucleation in Agarose Gel

Update (August 6th): Aaron Rowe covers this in C&EN — Lasers Spark Crystal Growth



  1. Andrew Alexander

    You are right in suggesting that not every molecule is going to benefit from this technique; we have found that even some simple inorganic salts are reticent to crystallize with the laser method. You hit the nail squarely on the head when you say that *any* new tricks will be a useful addition to the chemist’s arsenal.

  2. Leana Tatkrow

    That’s an interesting paper you have found there. My research area is quiet similar, so I will make sure to take a look at it.

    Keep up the great blog.

    best regards
    Leana Tatkrow

  3. Sourav Chatterjee

    That’s really interesting material. But not all molecules will be benefited by this idea. Especially organic molecules and polymers are very difficult to grow. I appreciate this work because I know how much pain it’s to grow one crystal. Like one of my monomer took 3 months to crystallize and gave me trouble also the material i am working is also light sensitive. so it’s a tough to get it.
    I hope in near future we will find something that can take less time.

    Best regards,

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