Homogeneous Nucleation of Silicates in Solution

Silica and silicates are indispensable in many fields of science and technology, such as cement, ceramics, glass, zeolites, or catalysts. Since most of the properties strongly depend on pore dimensions, topology and heteroatom distribution, it is crucial to develop tailor-made syntheses. The goal is therefore to study the early stages of crystal formation, namely the prenucleation and the nucleation phases. However, these are also the most elusive steps in solid-state chemistry, since the size of the particles to be examined range from small molecules to the completed crystal. In order to enable the synthesis of custom-made products, we established electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI MS) as a suitable technique to analyze prenucleating- and nucleating solutions.

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