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In Situ Observation of the Structure of Crystallizing Magnesium Sulfate Heptahydrate Solutions with Terahertz Transmission Spectroscopy.

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Li, Qi 
Kölbel, Johanna 
Davis, Margaret P 
Korter, Timothy M 


Terahertz time-domain spectroscopy in a transmission geometry combined with visual analysis was used to investigate the crystallization process of MgSO4 solution. Careful spectral analysis of both a feature at 1.6 THz and the overall magnitude of absorption allowed the extraction of information about the liquid phase before and during crystallization, aiding the investigation of solvation dynamics and the behavior of molecular species at phase boundaries. The method was reproducibly applied to a number of measurements on a series of solutions of three chosen concentrations at different temperatures. When increasing temperature at the end of the measurement, the dissolution of crystals was observed as well. The temperature-dependent absorption data of the semicrystalline systems were converted to the solvent concentrations using a recently developed method. Solutions of a series of concentrations were also investigated in the temperature range of 4-25 °C. The results were compared to the theoretical calculated values, and the consistent differences proved the existence of a hydration shell around the salt ions whose behavior is different from bulk water. Future work will focus on triggering nucleation at specific positions in order to study the very beginning of the crystallization process. MgSO4 heptahydrate is used as a model system in this study, while the concept and the setup can be applied to other systems.



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Cryst Growth Des

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American Chemical Society (ACS)
EPSRC (EP/S023046/1)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/L015889/1)