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In Situ TEM and AFM Investigation of Morphological Controls during the Growth of Single Crystal BaWO4

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posted on 13.12.2017, 00:00 by Lili Liu, Shuai Zhang, Mark E. Bowden, Jharna Chaudhuri, James J. De Yoreo
Barium tungstate (BaWO4) is a widely investigated inorganic optical material due to its attractive emission properties. Because those properties strongly depend on crystal structure and morphology, numerous approaches to controlling growth have been pursued. However, an understanding of the growth mechanisms that lead to the wide range of morphologies obtained to date is largely lacking, and most attempts to develop that understanding have been based on post-growth analyses. Significantly, such analyses have led to the conclusion that certain BaWO4 crystal morphologies result from a nonclassical growth process of oriented attachment. In this work, we systematically varied the morphology of BaWO4 crystals by adjusting the relative concentrations of solute, water, and ethanol. We then explored the growth mechanism leading to the observed range of morphologies through in situ TEM and in situ AFM. We find that even the most complex BaWO4 morphologies occur through purely classical growth mechanisms largely controlled by the content of solute and ethanol. The latter acts as an impurity to poison growth at low concentrations and low solute levels, but leads to development of growth instabilities and eventual dendritic growth at high alcohol and moderate solute concentrations by driving up the supersaturation. These findings also highlight the necessity of in situ experiments to interpret ex situ observations of crystal growth and decipher the controlling mechanisms.