Monitoring In Situ Growth and Dissolution of Molecular Crystals: Towards Determination of the Growth Units


  • We are grateful to Ada Yonath and her group of the Max-Planck-Insitut für strukturelle Molekularbiologie, Hamburg for use of laboratory facilities and to the staff of HASYLAB for assistance. We thank Meir Lahav, Isabelle Weissbuch, and Ivan Kuzmenko for discussions. We acknowledge financial support from the Minerva Foundation, the Danish National Research Council, and the Fund for Basic Research of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.


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Cyclic, hydrogen-bonded dimers are shown to be the building blocks of α-glycine and of β-alanine crystals by atomic force microscopy and surface X-ray diffraction experiments on their growth and dissolution (one such unit of β-alanine is shown on the right). Both processes take place in steps of hydrogen-bonded bilayers.