Revolutionary images of the birth of crystals

At the interface between chemistry and physics, the process of crystallization is omnipresent in nature and industry. It is the basis for the formation of snowflakes but also of certain active ingredients used in pharmacology. ...

Research illuminates earliest part of phase separation

Scientists at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital are studying liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS), a biophysical process through which proteins and nucleic acids in a cell are compartmentalized without a membrane. The ...

How aerosols are formed

ETH Zurich researchers conducted an experiment to investigate the initial steps in the formation of aerosols. Their findings are now aiding efforts to better understand and model that process—for example, the formation ...

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Nucleation is the extremely localized budding of a distinct thermodynamic phase. Some examples of phases that may form by way of nucleation in liquids are gaseous bubbles, crystals or glassy regions. Creation of liquid droplets in saturated vapor is also characterized by nucleation (see Cloud condensation nuclei). Nucleation of crystalline, amorphous and even vacancy clusters solid materials is also important, for example to the semiconductor industry. Most nucleation processes are physical, rather than chemical, but a few exceptions do exist (e.g. electrochemical nucleation). A good example would be the famous Diet Coke and Mentos eruption. Nucleation normally occurs at nucleation sites on surfaces contacting the liquid or vapor. Suspended particles or minute bubbles also provide nucleation sites. This is called heterogeneous nucleation. Nucleation without preferential nucleation sites is homogeneous nucleation. Homogeneous nucleation occurs spontaneously and randomly, but it requires superheating or supercooling of the medium. Nucleation is involved in such processes as cloud seeding and in instruments such as the bubble chamber and the cloud chamber.

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