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In situ electron microscopy studies of calcium carbonate precipitation from aqueous solution with and without organic additives

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JournalJOURNAL OF STRUCTURAL BIOLOGY
DatePublished - 1 Jan 2013
Issue number2
Volume183
Pages (from-to)270-277
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

For the understanding of mineral formation processes from solution it is important to obtain a deeper insight into the dynamics of crystal growth. In this study we applied for this purpose a novel atmospheric scanning electron microscope that allows the investigation of CaCO particle formation in solution under atmospheric conditions with a resolution of approximately 10 nm. Furthermore it permits the in situ observation of the dynamics of crystal evolution. With this tool the precipitation of CaCO was studied in the absence and presence of additives, namely poly(acrylic acid) and poly(styrene sulfonate-co-maleic acid) which are known to influence the crystal growth rate and morphology. We determined particle growth rates and investigated the formation and dissolution dynamics of an observed transient phase, believed to be amorphous calcium carbonate. This technique also enabled us to study the depletion zones, areas of lower intensity due to reduced ion concentrations. Ion flux rates were obtained from the depletion zone width, which amounted to several μm assuming the formation and dissolution dynamics of amorphous calcium carbonate being the rate determining process. This assumption was confirmed since the obtained fluxes were found to be in good agreement with fluxes derived from the experimentally observed crystal growth rates.

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