The role of nanopore shape in surface-induced crystallization

Ying Diao, Takuya Harada, Allan S. Myerson, T. Alan Hatton, Bernhardt L. Trout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Crystallization of a molecular liquid from solution often initiates at solid"liquid interfaces, and nucleation rates are generally believed to be enhanced by surface roughness. Here we show that, on a rough surface, the shape of surface nanopores can also alter nucleation kinetics. Using lithographic methods, we patterned polymer films with nanopores of various shapes and found that spherical nanopores 15"120nm in diameter hindered nucleation of aspirin crystals, whereas angular nanopores of the same size promoted it. We also show that favourable surface"solute interactions are required for angular nanopores to promote nucleation, and propose that pore shape affects nucleation kinetics through the alteration of the orientational order of the crystallizing molecule near the angles of the pores. Our findings have clear technological implications, for instance in the control of pharmaceutical polymorphism and in the design of seed™ particles for the regulation of crystallization of fine chemicals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)867-871
Number of pages5
JournalNature Materials
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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