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Phys Rev Lett. 2004 Jul 16;93(3):035502. Epub 2004 Jul 13.

Chiral symmetry breaking during crystallization: an advection-mediated nonlinear autocatalytic process.

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  • 1Laboratorio de Estudios Cristalográficos, CSIC, E-18100 Armilla, Granada, Spain.


When a chiral chemical compound crystallizes from solution or from its melt, stirring often results in the formation of crystals of just one of the two possible enantiomers, while without fluid advection both enantiomers are formed. We demonstrate with simulations of the dynamics of the system that secondary nucleation is a nonlinear autocatalytic phenomenon that can explain these observations. Furthermore, we present theoretical arguments and experimental results that suggest that at the microscale the mechanism of secondary nucleation is whisker crystal growth and dispersion in the fluid flow.

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