Delivering Control through Theory and Experiment
Crystallisation in the Real World: Delivering Control through Theory and Experiment’ is a 5-year, £5.4 Million research programme funded by the EPSRC that started in March 2018. It includes three experimental groups and five modelling groups who come from the Universities of Leeds (both Chemical Engineering and Chemistry), Sheffield, Warwick and UCL. The aim of our project is to develop new ways to control crystallisation, where we are combining cutting-edge experiments, characterisation and simulations to understand the mechanisms that determine how inorganic crystals nucleate and grow.
Crystallisation is by any measure a fascinating phenomenon. However, it is only now that we have the instrumental and theoretical tools required to really begin to understand the dynamic, molecular-scale processes that underlie nucleation and growth. By coupling modelling methods that address length-scales, time-scales and environments relevant to real-world conditions with carefully designed multi-scale experiments that range from the intentionally simple to cutting-edge, we are investigating the nanoscale changes that occur in the solid and solution during crystallisation.
This new understanding holds the key to generating crystal polymorphs by simply tuning the reaction conditions, or pre-selecting soluble additives that can generate particles with desired sizes and shapes. It will enable us to design surfaces that can encourage or inhibit crystal growth – where and when we want it – or to select particles that can promote nucleation, possibly even of a specific polymorph. These new skills then find multiple applications in sectors ranging from the Chemical Industry to Environment, Healthcare, Formulated Products, Oil and Gas, Water, Mining and Advanced Materials.