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Do metastable polymorphs always grow faster? Measuring and comparing growth kinetics of three polymorphs of tolfenamic acid.

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Neoptolemou, Petros 
Reutzel-Edens, Susan M  ORCID logo
Cruz-Cabeza, Aurora J  ORCID logo


The phenomenon of molecular crystal polymorphism is of central importance for all those industries that rely on crystallisation for the manufacturing of their products. Computational methods for the evaluation of thermodynamic properties of polymorphs have become incredibly accurate and a priori prediction of crystal structures is becoming routine. The computational study and prediction of the kinetics of crystallisation impacting polymorphism, however, have received considerably less attention despite their crucial role in directing crystallisation outcomes. This is mainly due to the lack of available experimental data, as nucleation and growth kinetics of polymorphs are generally difficult to measure. On the one hand, the determination of overall nucleation and growth kinetics through batch experiments suffers from unwanted polymorphic transformations or the absence of experimental conditions under which several polymorphs can be nucleated. On the other hand, growth rates of polymorphs obtained from measurements of single crystals are often only recorded along a few specific crystal dimensions, thus lacking information about overall growth and rendering an incomplete picture of the problem. In this work, we measure the crystal growth kinetics of three polymorphs (I, II and IX) of tolfenamic acid (TFA) in isopropanol solutions, with the intention of providing a meaningful comparison of their growth rates. First, we analyse the relation between the measured growth rates and the crystal structures of the TFA polymorphs. We then explore ways to compare their relative growth rates and discuss their significance when trying to determine which polymorph grows faster. Using approximations for describing the volume of TFA crystals, we show that while crystals of the metastable TFA-II grow the fastest at all solution concentrations, crystals of the metastable TFA-IX become kinetically competitive as the driving force for crystallisation increases. Overall, both metastable forms TFA-II and TFA-IX grow faster than the stable TFA-I.


Acknowledgements: Pietro Sacchi would like to thank Eli Lilly and Company for funding, and Dr Thomas Vetter and Dr Alexandru Moldovan for helpful discussions.


3402 Inorganic Chemistry, 34 Chemical Sciences

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Chem Sci

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Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)
Eli Lilly and Company (Unassigned)