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On the Mechanism of Crystalline Polymorph Selection by Polymer Heteronuclei

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journal contribution
posted on 21.06.2011, 00:00 authored by Vilmalí López-Mejías, Jennifer L. Knight, Charles L. Brooks, Adam J. Matzger
The phase-selective crystallization of acetaminophen (ACM) using insoluble polymers as heteronuclei was investigated in a combined experimental and computational effort to elucidate the mechanism of polymer-induced heteronucleation (PIHn). ACM heteronucleates from supersaturated aqueous solution in its most thermodynamically stable monoclinic form on poly(n-butyl methacrylate), whereas the metastable orthorhombic form is observed on poly(methyl methacrylate). When ACM crystals were grown through vapor deposition, only the monoclinic polymorph was observed on each polymer. Each crystallization condition leads to a unique powder X-ray diffraction pattern with the major preferred orientation corresponding to the crystallographic faces in which these crystal phases nucleate from surfaces of the polymers. The molecular recognition events leading to these outcomes are elucidated with the aid of computed polymer–crystal binding energies using docking simulations. This investigation illuminates the mechanism by which phase selection occurs during the crystallization of ACM using polymers as heteronuclei, paving the way for the improvement of methods for polymorph selection and discovery based on heterogeneous nucleation promoters.