Nonclassical Crystal Growth as Explanation for the Riddle of Polarity in Centrosymmetric Glycine Crystals

Elena Meirzadeh, Liel Sapir, Hagai Cohen, Sidney R. Cohen, David Ehre, Daniel Harries*, Meir Lahav, Igor Lubomirsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The riddle of anomalous polar behavior of the centrosymmetric crystal of α-glycine is resolved by the discovery of a polar, several hundred nanometer thick hydrated layer, created at the {010} faces during crystal growth. This layer was detected by two independent pyroelectric analytical methods: (i) periodic temperature change technique (Chynoweth) at ambient conditions and (ii) contactless X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under ultrahigh vacuum. The total polarization of the surface layer is extremely large, yielding ≈1 μC·cm-2, and is preserved in ultrahigh vacuum, but disappears upon heating to 100 °C. Molecular dynamics simulations corroborate the formation of polar hydrated layers at the sub-microsecond time scale, however with a thickness of only several nanometers, not several hundred. This inconsistency might be reconciled by invoking a three-step nonclassical crystal growth mechanism comprising (i) docking of clusters from the supersaturated solution onto the evolving crystal, (ii) surface recognition and polar induction, and (iii) annealing and dehydration, followed by site-selective recrystallization.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)14756-14763
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number44
StatePublished - 9 Nov 2016

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© 2016 American Chemical Society.


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