Mesocrystals: Inorganic Superstructures Made by Highly Parallel Crystallization and Controlled Alignment



Controlled self-organization of nanoparticles can lead to new materials. The colloidal crystallization of non-spherical nanocrystals is a reaction channel in many crystallization reactions. With additives, self-organization can be stopped at an intermediary step—a mesocrystal—in which the primary units can still be identified. Mesocrystals were observed for various systems as kinetically metastable species or as intermediates in a crystallization reaction leading to single crystals with typical defects and inclusions. The control forces and mechanism of mesocrystal formation are largely unknown, but several mesocrystal properties are known. Mesocrystals are exiting examples of nonclassical crystallization, which does not proceed through ion-by-ion attachment, but by a modular nanobuilding-block route. This path makes crystallization more independent of ion products or molecular solubility, it occurs without pH or osmotic pressure changes, and opens new strategies for crystal morphogenesis.