Kinetic roughening like transition with finite nucleation barrier

Jim Lutsko, Vasileios Basios, Grégoire Nicolis, John Kozak, Mike Sleutel, Dominique Maes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent observations of the growth of protein crystals have identified two different growth regimes.
At low supersaturation, the surface of the crystal is smooth and increasing in size due to the
nucleation of steps at defects and the subsequent growth of the steps. At high supersaturation,
nucleation occurs at many places simultaneously, the crystal surface becomes rough, and the growth
velocity increases more rapidly with increasing supersaturation than in the smooth regime. Kinetic
roughening transitions are typically assumed to be due to the vanishing of the barrier for
two-dimension nucleation on the surface of the crystal. We show here, by means of both analytic
mean-field models and kinetic Monte Carlo simulations, that a transition between different growth
modes reminiscent of kinetic roughening can also arise as a kinetic effect occurring at finite
nucleation barriers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35102
Number of pages1
JournalThe Journal of Chemical Physics
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • crystallization
  • kinetic roughening
  • nucleation


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