by Dana Plesa

Being a Science Fiction buff, crystallization offered me the opportunity to build my own futuristic “architecture”.

Crystallization is the process that refers to the formation of a highly organized solid structure, a crystal, from a solution. Crystallization takes place in two steps. The first step is nucleation, when a small number of atoms or molecules aggregates in a pattern to initiate a crystalline structure. The second step is the on-going process of adding material to the surface-crystal growth.

To obtain my futuristic architecture I needed to build up a thin layer (few nm) of overlapping crystals with different structures. As the solvents have faster evaporation times then water, I used tiny (5 to 10μL) droplets of two different solvents in certain areas to increase the rate of evaporation of the water from my saturated solution of salts. By changing the evaporation speed, I was able to influence the crystal structures and the speed of crystal growth.

For the artistic appearance, I used coloured filters over my light source. I had lots of fun, although it required lots and lots of patience to capture my “futuristic city scape”.