UnveiLIN - Unveiling Nonphotochemical Laser Induced Nucleation mechanisms

From the production of nanostructured materials, organic electronics, pharmaceuticals to the formation of bones, crystallization is omnipresent. Despite its widespread use, the elementary phenomena of crystallization from solution are far from being completely understood. Among these phenomena, the process of creating a new solid from a supersaturated phase is called nucleation and it represents a central theme for all kinds of crystallization. Nucleation is crucial to control final characteristics such as number, size, shape and polymorphism of the new crystalline materials, which dictate final product quality, bioavailability of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API). Although significant recent advances in the understanding of the mechanism of nucleation of crystals in solution have been developed, controlling nucleation remains a challenge, due to its stochastic nature. In this sense, a new approach to conduct crystallization from solutions can be provided by Nonphotochemical Laser Induced Nucleation - NPLIN. Evidences point out that NPLIN can control crystal structure, e.g. polymorphism, and drastically decrease induction time. The phenomenon has been demonstrated in aqueous solutions of several compounds and was classified as “nonphotochemical” due to the solutes and solvents not having absorption bands within the range of the applied laser light. Yet, mechanisms involved are still poorly understood, even though some hypotheses have been developed. Thus, the aim of this project is to use the multiplexing abilities of a microfluidic device to experimentally unveil the mechanisms governing NPLIN, enabling complete understanding of this phenomenon up to a point where it is possible to implement this technology in a scaled-up system.