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Assessing the Onset of Calcium Phosphate Nucleation by Hyperpolarized Real-Time NMR

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journal contribution
posted on 21.05.2020, 17:38 by Emmanuelle M. M. Weber, Thomas Kress, Daniel Abergel, Steffi Sewsurn, Thierry Azaïs, Dennis Kurzbach
We report an experimental approach for high-resolution real-time monitoring of transiently formed species occurring during the onset of precipitation of ionic solids from solution. This is made possible by real-time nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) monitoring using dissolution dynamic nuclear polarization (D-DNP) to amplify signals of functional intermediates and is supported by turbidimetry, cryogenic electron microscopy, and solid-state NMR measurements. D-DNP can provide drastic signal improvements in NMR signal amplitudes, permitting dramatic reductions in acquisition times and thereby enabling us to probe fast interaction kinetics such as those underlying formation of prenucleation species (PNS) that precede solid–liquid phase separation. This experimental strategy allows for investigation of the formation of calcium phosphate (CaP)-based minerals by 31P NMRa process of substantial industrial, geological, and biological interest. Thus far, many aspects of the mechanisms of CaP nucleation remain unclear due to the absence of experimental methods capable of accessing such processes on sufficiently short time scales. The approach reported here aims to address this by an improved characterization of the initial steps of CaP precipitation, permitting detection of PNS by NMR and determination of their formation rates, exchange dynamics, and sizes. Using D-DNP monitoring, we find that under our conditions (i) in the first 2 s after preparation of oversaturated calcium phosphate solutions, PNS with a hydrodynamic radius of Rh ≈ 1 nm is formed and (ii) following this rapid initial formation, the entire crystallization processes proceed on considerably longer time scales, requiring >20 s to form the final crystal phase.