Manipulating Single Microdroplets of NaCl Solutions: Solvent Dissolution, Microcrystallization, and Crystal Morphology.
A new "three-micropipette manipulation technique" for forming, dehydrating, crystallizing, and resolvating nanograms of salt material has been developed to study supersaturated single microdroplets and microcrystals. This is the first report of studies that have measured in situ both supersaturation (as homogeneous nucleation) and saturation (as microcrystal redissolution) for single microdroplets of NaCl solution using the micropipette technique. This work reports a measure of the critical supersaturation concentration for homogeneous nucleation of NaCl (10.3 ± 0.3 M) at a supersaturation fraction of S = 1.9, the saturation concentration of NaCl in aqueous solution as measured with nanograms of material (5.5 ± 0.1 M), the diffusion coefficient for water in octanol, D = (1.96 ± 0.10) × 10-6 cm2/s, and the effect of the solvent's activity on dissolution kinetics. It is further shown that the same Epstein-Plesset (EP) model, which was originally developed for diffusion-controlled dissolution and uptake of gas, and successfully applied to liquid-in-liquid dissolution, can now also be applied to describe the diffusion-controlled uptake of water from a water-saturated environment using the extended activity-based model of Bitterfield et al. This aspect of the EP model has not previously been tested using single microdroplets. Finally, it is also reported how the water dissolution rate, rate of NaCl concentration change, resulting crystal structure, and the time frame of initial crystal growth are affected by changing the bathing medium from octanol to decane. A much slower loss of water-solvent and concomitant slower up-concentration of the NaCl solute resulted in a lower tendency to nucleate and slower crystal growth because much less excess material was available at the onset of nucleation in the decane system as compared to the octanol system. Thus, the crystal structure is reported to be dendritic for NaCl solution microdroplets dissolving rapidly and nucleating violently in octanol, while they are formed as single cubic crystals in a gentler way for solution-dissolution in decane. These new techniques and analyses can now also be used for any other system where all relevant parameters are known. An example of this is control of drug/hydrogel/emulsion particle size change due to solvent uptake.
Utoft, A; Kinoshita, K; Bitterfield, DL; Needham, D
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