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Nucleation of organic crystals in flows: Discover how organic crystals nucleate and how fluid flows can be used to influence this

Project Description

Nucleation is a birth of new crystals. Crystallisation is involved in manufacturing of vast majority of chemicals, pharmaceuticals and advanced materials as well as in many environmental and biological processes, but predicting nucleation behaviour is almost impossible because the process of nucleating crystals is still a mystery. For example, fluid flow is well known to influence nucleation of crystals from solutions and melts. Studies have reported that fluid shear can influence the primary nucleation of various organic compounds from solution, including protein molecules, such as lysozyme and insulin, and smaller molecules such as glycine and carbamazepine. In some cases, fluid shear can enhance primary nucleation rates while in others it can suppress them, and the mechanisms behind the role of fluid shear on primary nucleation remain unclear. In many studies on the influence of fluid shear on nucleation, the shear rates were not well quantified so in our previous work, Couette and capillary flow devices were used to achieve controlled, quantifiable flow conditions. We showed that this controlled fluid shear can be used to significantly enhance primary nucleation rates in supersaturated glycine solutions.

Now we would like to investigate other organic crystals and discover how these crystals nucleate and how fluid flows can be used to influence that. We will use cutting edge experimental facilities, including high speed high resolution imaging, Brownian microscopy, static and dynamic light scattering and small angle X-ray scattering, in the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering and in the National Centre for Continuous Manufacturing and Advanced Crystallisation (CMAC) in the Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC) at the University of Strathclyde

In addition to undertaking cutting edge research, students are also registered for the Postgraduate Certificate in Researcher Development (PGCert), which is a supplementary qualification that develops a student’s skills, networks and career prospects.

Information about the host department can be found by visiting:

Funding Notes

This PhD project is initially offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with their own funding, or those applying to funding sources. However, excellent candidates may be considered for a University scholarship.

Students applying should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum 2.1 undergraduate degree in a relevant engineering/science discipline, and be highly motivated to undertake multidisciplinary research.


C. Forsyth et al. "Influence of controlled fluid shear on nucleation rates in glycine aqueous solutions" Crystal Growth and Design, 15, 94 (2015).

A. Jawor-Baczynska et al. "Effect of mixing, concentration and temperature on the formation of mesostructured solutions and their role in the nucleation of DL-valine crystals" Faraday Discussions, 179, 141 (2015).

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