Crystal Reveals Unexpected Beginnings | Science News

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Crystal Reveals Unexpected Beginnings

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5:51pm, April 7, 2003

Birth is a tough process, particularly for crystals. Before a crystalline structure forms, atoms or molecules mingle in a solution, making and breaking attachments. After enough particles gather in a cluster, and surpass a critical size, crystal growth speeds along.

The initial clumping, called nucleation, helps determine a crystal's size, composition, and other properties. Scientists have developed theories about nucleation for decades, but they hadn't actually witnessed nuclei forming in solution.

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