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Crystal growth and characterization of organic and inorganic crystals: surface chemical reactions and sorption processes

Massimo Moret

Growth and characterization of crystals is a mandatory step in many fields of science and technology. Growth of crystals involves several chemical surface processes and surface reactivity is a key point to understand and optimize crystal growth as well as the interactions of crystals with natural or artificial environments.

Major areas of interest for inorganic systems are:  crystal growth from solution (synthesis of microporous coordination polymers with potential zeolite-like behaviour) and study of sorption processes at the crystal/solution interface, occurring in natural environments and in laboratory or industrial processes (e.g. the setting of cements and plasters in the presence of organic additives).

In situ characterization of reacting crystal surfaces is mainly based on scanning probe microscopy (SPM) with a dedicated fluid cell and a controlled environment. In situ SPM allows recording of time evolution of surface topography and the study of surface reaction kinetics.

Moret

Growth of organic semiconductor crystals (with solution, sublimation, physical vapour transport, or organothermal methods) is complemented with ex-situ SPM, X-ray diffraction, and hot stage optical microscopy. Theoretical modelling with Periodic Bond Chain analysis and electron density partitioning of crystal space (Hirshfeld surfaces) is a further step towards the detailed analysis of packing modes and intermolecular interactions occurring during crystal growth.

Simulations of organic-organic heteroepitaxial layers are also performed by using empirical force fields. Aim of these studies is analysing and predicting epitaxial relationships between organic thin film deposits and organic crystal substrates.