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