The crystal growth behavior induced by small molecular additives is commonly assumed to be far less complex and rich in comparison to that obtained when using macromolecules. Herein, we demonstrate that the small organic molecule Acid Orange 7 can induce a large diversity of multi-layered barium carbonate structures. These multi-layered structures stem from the small molecule imperfectly blocking the fastest growing crystal face. By tuning the balance of growth and inhibition, we control the layer shape and thickness of the structures. Extending these strategies to strontium carbonate enables the precipitation of large quasi two-dimensional multi-layer sheets. Collectively, these findings highlight the unforeseen potential for using small organic molecules to induce the formation of complex inorganic structures.

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Cryst.Growth Des.
Self-Organizing Matter

Mader, A., Helmbrecht, L., & Noorduin, W. (2021). Multi-layered Barium and Strontium Carbonate Structures Induced by the Small Organic Dye Acid Orange 7. Cryst.Growth Des., 21(11), 6349–6356. doi:10.1021/acs.cgd.1c00823