Crystal shape modification via cycles of growth and dissolution in a tubular crystallizer

Neugebauer, Peter and Cardona, Javier and Besenhard, Maximilian O. and Peter, Anna and Gruber-Woelfler, Heidrun and Tachtatzis, Christos and Cleary, Alison and Andonovic, Ivan and Sefcik, Jan and Khinast, Johannes G. (2018) Crystal shape modification via cycles of growth and dissolution in a tubular crystallizer. Crystal Growth and Design, 18 (8). 4403–4415. ISSN 1528-7483 (

[thumbnail of Neugebauer-etal-CGD2018-Crystal-shape-modification-via-cycles-of-growth-and-dissolution]
Text. Filename: Neugebauer_etal_CGD2018_Crystal_shape_modification_via_cycles_of_growth_and_dissolution.pdf
Final Published Version
License: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 logo

Download (5MB)| Preview


Besides size and polymorphic form, crystal shape takes a central role in engineering advanced solid materials for pharmaceutical and chemical industry. This work demonstrates how multiple cycles of growth and dissolution can manipulate the habit of an acetylsalicylic acid crystal population. Considerable changes of the crystal habit could be achieved within minutes due to rapid cycling, i.e., up to 25 cycles within <10 min. The required fast heating and cooling rates were facilitated using a tubular reactor design allowing for superior temperature control. The face specific interactions between solvent and the crystals’ surface result in face specific growth and dissolution rates and hence alterations of the final shape of the crystals in solution. Accurate quantification of the crystal shapes was essential for this work, but is everything but easy. A commercial size and shape analyser had to be adapted to achieve required accuracy. Online size, and most important shape, analysis was achieved using an automated microscope equipped with a flow-through cell, in combination with a dedicated image analysis routine for particle tracking and shape analysis. Due to the implementation of this analyser, capable of obtaining statistics on the crystals’ shape while still in solution (no sampling and manipulation required), the dynamic behaviour of the size shape distribution could be studied. This enabled a detailed analysis of the solvent’s effect on the change in crystal habit.