Tautomerism unveils a self-inhibition mechanism of crystallization
Abstract

Modifiers are commonly used in natural, biological, and synthetic crystallization to tailor the growth of diverse materials. Here, we identify tautomers as a new class of modifiers where the dynamic interconversion between solute and its corresponding tautomer(s) produces native crystal growth inhibitors. The macroscopic and microscopic effects imposed by inhibitor-crystal interactions reveal dual mechanisms of inhibition where tautomer occlusion within crystals that leads to natural bending, tunes elastic modulus, and selectively alters the rate of crystal dissolution. Our study focuses on ammonium urate crystallization and shows that the keto-enol form of urate, which exists as a minor tautomer, is a potent inhibitor that nearly suppresses crystal growth at select solution alkalinity and supersaturation. The generalizability of this phenomenon is demonstrated for two additional tautomers with relevance to biological systems and pharmaceuticals. These findings offer potential routes in crystal engineering to strategically control the mechanical or physicochemical properties of tautomeric materials.

Authors:
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10395011
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Volume:
14
Issue:
1
ISSN:
2041-1723
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
National Science Foundation
##### More Like this
1. Solution crystallization is a part of the synthesis of materials ranging from geological and biological minerals to pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals, and advanced electronic components. Attempts to predict the structure, growth rates and properties of emerging crystals have been frustrated, in part, by the poor understanding of the correlations between the oligomeric state of the solute, the growth unit, and the crystal symmetry. To explore how a solute monomer or oligomer is selected as the unit that incorporates into kinks and how crystal symmetry impacts this selection, we combine scanning probe microscopy, optical spectroscopy, and all-atom molecular simulations using as examples two organic materials, olanzapine (OZPN) and etioporphyrin I (EtpI). The dominance of dimeric structures in OZPN crystals has spurred speculation that the dimers preform in the solution, where they capture the majority of the solute, and then assemble into crystals. By contrast, EtpI in crystals aligns in parallel stacks of flat EtpI monomers unrelated by point symmetry. Raman and absorption spectroscopies show that solute monomers are the majority solute species in solutions of both compounds. Surprisingly, the kinetics of incorporation of OZPN into kinks is bimolecular, indicating that the growth unit is a solute dimer, a minority solution component. Themore »
2. Abstract

Anisotropic colloidal crystals are materials with novel optical and electronic properties. However, experimental observations of colloidal single crystals have been limited to relatively isotropic habits. Here, we show DNA-mediated crystallization of two types of nanoparticles with different hydrodynamic radii that form highly anisotropic, hexagonal prism microcrystals with AB2crystallographic symmetry. The DNA directs the nanoparticles to assemble into a non-equilibrium crystal shape that is enclosed by the highest surface energy facets (AB2(10$$\overline 1$$$\overline{1}$0) and AB2(0001)). Simulations and theoretical arguments show that this observation is a consequence of large energy barriers between different terminations of the AB2(10$$\overline 1$$$\overline{1}$0) facet, which results in a significant deceleration of the (10$$\overline 1$$$\overline{1}$0) facet growth rate. In addition to reporting a hexagonal colloidal crystal habit, this work introduces a potentially general plane multiplicity mechanism for growing non-equilibrium crystal shapes, an advance that will be useful for designing colloidal crystal habits with important applications in both optics and photocatalysis.

3. Gravitational waves are detected using resonant optical cavity interferometers. The mirror coatings’ inherent thermal noise and photon scattering limit sensitivity. Crystals within the reflective coating may be responsible for either or both noise sources. In this study, we explored crystallization reduction in zirconia through nano-layering with silica. We used X-ray diffraction (XRD) to monitor crystal growth between successive annealing cycles. We observed crystal formation at higher temperatures in thinner zirconia layers, indicating that silica is a successful inhibitor of crystal growth. However, the thinnest barriers break down at high temperatures, thus allowing crystal growth beyond each nano-layer. In addition, in samples with thicker zirconia layers, we observe that crystallization saturates with a significant portion of amorphous material remaining.
4. Abstract

Crystallization is a ubiquitous means of self-assembly that can organize matter over length scales orders of magnitude larger than those of the monomer units. Yet crystallization is notoriously difficult to control because it is exquisitely sensitive to monomer concentration, which changes as monomers are depleted during growth. Living cells control crystallization using chemical reaction networks that offset depletion by synthesizing or activating monomers to regulate monomer concentration, stabilizing growth conditions even as depletion rates change, and thus reliably yielding desired products. Using DNA nanotubes as a model system, here we show that coupling a generic reversible bimolecular monomer buffering reaction to a crystallization process leads to reliable growth of large, uniformly sized crystals even when crystal growth rates change over time. Buffering could be applied broadly as a simple means to regulate and sustain batch crystallization and could facilitate the self-assembly of complex, hierarchical synthetic structures.

5. Abstract

The process of crystallization is often understood in terms of the fundamental microstructural elements of the crystallite being formed, such as surface orientation or the presence of defects. Considerably less is known about the role of the liquid structure on the kinetics of crystal growth. Here atomistic simulations and machine learning methods are employed together to demonstrate that the liquid adjacent to solid-liquid interfaces presents significant structural ordering, which effectively reduces the mobility of atoms and slows down the crystallization kinetics. Through detailed studies of silicon and copper we discover that the extent to which liquid mobility is affected by interface-induced ordering (IIO) varies greatly with the degree of ordering and nature of the adjacent interface. Physical mechanisms behind the IIO anisotropy are explained and it is demonstrated that incorporation of this effect on a physically-motivated crystal growth model enables the quantitative prediction of the growth rate temperature dependence.