A Mesocrystal-Like Morphology Formed by Classical Polymer-Mediated Crystal Growth

Paul J.M. Smeets, Kang Rae Cho, Nico A.J.M. Sommerdijk*, James J. De Yoreo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Growth by oriented assembly of nanoparticles is a widely reported phenomenon for many crystal systems. While often deduced through morphological analyses, direct evidence for this assembly behavior is limited and, in the calcium carbonate (CaCO3) system, has recently been disputed. However, in the absence of a particle-based pathway, the mechanism responsible for the creation of the striking morphologies that appear to consist of subparticles is unclear. Therefore, in situ atomic force microscopy is used to investigate the growth of calcite crystals in solutions containing a polymer additive known for its ability to generate crystal morphologies associated with mesocrystal formation. It is shown that classical growth processes that begin with impurity pinning of atomic steps, leading to stabilization of new step directions, creation of pseudo-facets, and extreme surface roughening, can produce a microscale morphology previously attributed to nonclassical processes of crystal growth by particle assembly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1701658
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number40
StatePublished - Oct 26 2017


  • atomic force microscopy
  • calcium carbonate
  • crystal growth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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