Surface area and secondary nucleation theory


PRIMARY nucleation theory involves estimating the maximum free energy necessary to form a crystal of sufficient size so that further crystallisation results in a decrease in free energy. This free energy increase is caused by the creation of surfaces with the liquid or vapour. (The number of sides will depend on crystal symmetry and crystal habit. Here we will consider only the simplest six-sided crystal.) After a crystal of this minimum size has been formed it is often necessary to consider a secondary nucleation process which involves the maximum free energy necessary to crystallise a new layer on one of the existing flat crystal surfaces. This note reports an error in the estimation of surface area in the theory of secondary nucleation processes. This error makes little difference when applied to the crystallisation of small molecules but it can have significant results in the crystallisation of polymer molecules.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Hill, T. L. Small Systems Thermodynamics (Benjamin, New York, 1964).

  2. 2

    Lauritzen Jr, J. I. & Hoffman, J. D. J. appl. Phys. 44, 4340 (1973).

  3. 3

    Price, F. P. J. Polymer Sci. 42, 29 (1960).

  4. 4

    Frank, F. C. & Tosi, M. Proc. R. Soc. A65, 267 (1961).

  5. 5

    Hoffman, J. D., Frolen, L. J., Ross, G. S. & Lauritzen, J. I. J. Res. Nat. Bw. Std. 79A 671 (1975).

  6. 6

    Wunderlich, B., Mielello, L., Cormier, Davidson, T. & Synder, G. J. Macromol. Sci-Phys B1, 485 (1967).

  7. 7

    Lindenmeyer, P. H., Beumer, H. & Hosemann, R. (in preparation).

  8. 8

    Wunderlich, B. Macromolecular Physics—Crystallization, Nucleation, Growthand Annealing (Academic, New York, 1976).

Download references

Author information



Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

LINDENMEYER, P. Surface area and secondary nucleation theory. Nature 269, 396–397 (1977).

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.