Comparison of different experimental techniques for the measurement of crystal growth kinetics

Alexander Van Driessche, Fermin Otalora, Gen Sazaki, Mike Sleutel, Katsuo Tsukamoto, Jose Gavira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


The relative merits and domains of application of three observation techniques (atomic force microscopy, Michelson
interferometry, and laser confocal microscopy with differential interference contrast microscopy) for the investigation of crystal
growth kinetics are discussed in the context of protein crystallization. Growth rate measurements on the same system under identical
experimental conditions using different techniques show differences up to 5-fold in growth rate and a different behavior of growth
rate as a function of supersaturation. These results are discussed in terms of differences in mass transport at the crystal interface
during data collection in the first case and as data processing artifacts in the second. Guidelines are provided for the selection of the
optimal observation technique in crystal growth studies as a function of the specific problem under investigation, showing that AFM
is best suited for nanometere-size, slow processes; LCM-DIM for nanometer-micrometer size, slow and medium processes; and
PSMI for micrometer size, fast processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4316-4323
Number of pages8
JournalCrystal Growth & Design
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • crystal growth
  • atomic force microscopy
  • phase-shift interferometry
  • laser confocal microscopy


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