Control over phase separation and nucleation using a laser-tweezing potential

Walton, F. and Wynne, K. (2018) Control over phase separation and nucleation using a laser-tweezing potential. Nature Chemistry, (doi:10.1038/s41557-018-0009-8) (PMID:29507366) (Early Online Publication)

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Abstract

Control over the nucleation of new phases is highly desirable but elusive. Even though there is a long history of crystallization engineering by varying physicochemical parameters, controlling which polymorph crystallizes or whether a molecule crystallizes or forms an amorphous precipitate is still a poorly understood practice. Although there are now numerous examples of control using laser-induced nucleation, the absence of physical understanding is preventing progress. Here we show that the proximity of a liquid–liquid critical point or the corresponding binodal line can be used by a laser-tweezing potential to induce concentration gradients. A simple theoretical model shows that the stored electromagnetic energy of the laser beam produces a free-energy potential that forces phase separation or triggers the nucleation of a new phase. Experiments in a liquid mixture using a low-power laser diode confirm the effect. Phase separation and nucleation using a laser-tweezing potential explains the physics behind non-photochemical laser-induced nucleation and suggests new ways of manipulating matter.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Early Online Publication
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Wynne, Professor Klaas and Walton, Mr Finlay
Authors: Walton, F., and Wynne, K.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Chemistry
Journal Name:Nature Chemistry
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:1755-4330
ISSN (Online):1755-4349
Published Online:05 March 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature
First Published:First published in Nature Chemistry 2018
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
571341Liquid-liquid transitions in molecular liquids: from supramolecular structure to phase separationKlaas WynneEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/J004790/1CHEM - CHEMISTRY
582891The structure and dynamics of water confined in nanoscale pools: the dynamic crossoverKlaas WynneEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/J009733/1CHEM - CHEMISTRY
697461Mapping and controlling nucleationKlaas WynneEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/N007417/1CHEM - CHEMISTRY