Epilogue: A theory of crystallization?
In molecular crystallisation there are no first-rate laws, very few second-rate laws and many third-rate laws. The first-rate laws of thermodynamics become in such a context third-rate laws because the concept of phase is ill-defined in most if not all of the transformations involved in the evolution from a disperse molecular system to a molecular aggregate. There is a wide gap between the ever increasing ease with which the aggregation and crystallisation phenomenon can be studied thanks to calorimetry, X-ray diffraction, nuclear magnetic resonance, atomic force microscopy, molecular simulation, and the degree of understanding and control that may be gained from these experiments. If even laws are weak, the way to a theory seems even more problematic. This chapter examines whether a theory of crystallisation currently exists, laws and theories in chemistry, stages of molecular aggregation in oligomers, nanoparticles and mesoparticles, aggregation of macroscopic crystals, and the thermodynamics, kinetics, and symmetry of molecular aggregation.
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