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Science. 1991 Mar 15;251(4999):1343-6.

Atomic force microscopy of atomic-scale ledges and etch pits formed during dissolution of quartz.


The processes involved in the dissolution and growth of crystals are closely related. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) of faceted pits (called negative crystals) formed during quartz dissolution reveals subtle details of these underlying physical mechanisms for silicates. In imaging these surfaces, the AFM detected ledges <1 nanometer (nm) high that were spaced 10 to 90 nm apart. A dislocation pit, invisible to optical and scanning electron microscopy measurements and serving as a ledge source, was also imaged. These observations confirm the applicability of ledge-motion models to dissolution and growth of silicates; coupled with measurements of dissolution rate on facets, these methods provide a powerful tool for probing mineral surface kinetics.

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