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The Hidden Life of Crystals  

Crystallization is the process of transition of a substance from a liquid state with a disordered molecular arrangement to a solid crystal state with an organized internal structure. It is a widely occurring natural phenomenon, with crystal formations found from snowflakes to minerals. The crystalline products are highly dependent on internal factors such as the purity and chemical properties of the substance, and external factors such as temperature, concentration, air pressure, and surface of crystallization. 

Crystal growth of chemical compounds can be observed on the microscopic scale with the aid of  polarized light, which through its interaction with the birefringent crystalline material, uncovers a surreal landscape of  beautifully  intricate molecular  assemblies,     

exposing patterns reminiscent of plant growth and large geological formations.  The resulting colors highlight the microscopic patterns formed by crystal growth and inform on the organization of crystals.


This project explores the concept of emergenceHow does the unit cell drive spontaneous assembly of complex systems? How do structures change in relation to the inherent properties of the unit and to external pressure? How does ordered assembly relate to the evolution of large-scale structures in nature?

This work was produced in the ASCUS Art & Science Lab

The hidden life of crystals
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