Polarization independence of laser-induced nucleation in supersaturated aqueous urea solutions

Yao Liu, Martin R. Ward, Andrew J. Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
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In a seminal report on laser-induced nucleation in aqueous supersaturated solutions (Phys. Rev. Lett., 1996, 77, 3475) it was noted that needle-shaped crystals of urea were aligned with the direction of the electric field of the linearly polarized laser pulse. The results gave rise to a new mechanism for control of crystal nucleation involving alignment of solute molecules (optical Kerr effect) now commonly known as non-photochemical laser-induced nucleation (NPLIN). Recent theoretical and experimental work has cast doubts on the optical Kerr effect mechanism. In the present letter we present results from digital imaging of urea-crystal growth immediately following laser-induced nucleation. Analysis of the data shows no statistically significant correlation between crystal angle and direction of linear polarization. The results overturn a long-held result that has shaped theoretical and experimental studies of NPLIN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3464-3467
Number of pages4
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
Issue number5
Early online date10 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2017


  • laser-induced nucleation
  • urea
  • laser
  • Kerr effect


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