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Crystals: Does Surface Tension Affect The Process Of Crystallization?

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Science & Nature

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The characteristics of crystals have always fascinated man. Man
has always been interested in the appearance of them and some of the exotic
locations where many crystals may be found. These locations tend to be
cold and damp. Usually crystals tend to form under extremely saturated
liquids. For example, salt crystals tend to form in very saturated water
such as in ocean water. Though one knows that crystals usually form in
saturated liquids, but does the property of the liquid affect the rate or
formation of these crystals? This experiment has been conducted to prove
if that is true or not.


Many scientists have been interested in crystals and the science
associated with crystals. Though one knows that certain conditions must be
present in order for crystals to form; and if some of these conditions are
not present or are not perfect, then the formation of the crystal will be
disturbed. One may ask him/herself, how is the formation disturbed if only
one of the condition would happen to be modified? Most crystals are formed
under water or under liquids with similar characters to water; and tend to
form under liquids or solutions containing a maximum amount of solute. If
the liquid absorbs additional solute, then the solution is supersaturated.
If a tiny crystal, called a seed crystal, is added to the substance, a
chain reaction would occur where the crystal growth will grow dramatically.
In the case of the experiment, a staple is used instead of a crystal so
that the crystal can be easily removed at the end of the experiment. One
may wonder, if a certain characteristic of the solution were to be changed
or altered, then would the growth of the crystal change by quantity? shape?
In the experiment conducted, the types of liquid have been changed; both
the surface tension and chemical properties have been changed. In order to
compare on solution to another, water has been used as a control and that
the atmosphere associated with the container containing water will also be
considered the control. In this case, the surrounding atmosphere will be
regulated so that every container will experience the same conditions.
Crystals are homogenous portions of matter and has a definite atomic
structure. They also tend to have an outward form bordered by smooth,
plane surfaces and are symmetrically arranged.
Scientists have been involve in the study of the growth, shape and
geometric characters of crystals. These studies are called crystallography.
When the conditions are right, chemicals and compounds tend to crystallize
in a certain form. For example, salt crystals tend to form cubic crystals;
but garnet, which can also form cubic crystals, tend to form dodecahedron
or a twelve sided solid. Though salt and garnet are different in their
appearance, they are classified in the same class and system.
Theoretically, there are thirty-two classes of crystals and those thirty-
two classes are grouped into six crystal systems. The classification of
the systems is based on the length and the location of the crystal axis.
Minerals in each system have certain details of symmetry, crystal form, and
many optical properties. The six crystal systems are very important
especially to those such as mineralogists and gemologists. The six crystal
systems are isometric, tetragonal, orthorhombic, monoclinic, triclinic, and
hexagonal. The classification of the crystals is determined by their axes
and the way the axes are positioned. Under the class of isometric, the
crystals have three axes that are perpendicular to one another and each
axes are all equal in length. Under the class of tetragonal, the
crystals have three axes that are perpendicular to one another but only two
of the axes are equal in length. Under the class of orthorhombic, the
crystals have three perpendicular axes but all of the axes are different in
length. Under the class of monoclinic, the crystals have three axes that
are not equal in length, but two of the axes are not perpendicular to one
another but are perpendicular to the third axis. Under the class of
triclinic, the crystals have three axes which are not equal in length and
are not perpendicular to one another. Under the class of hexagonal, the
crystals have four axes. Three of the axes are on a single plane and are
symmetrically spaced and are equal in length. The fourth axis is
perpendicular to the other three axes and can be any length compared to the
other three axis. Though crystals may have the same chemical composition,
they may be considered very different in all their physical properties.
For example, under the isometric system, carbon crystallizes to form a
diamond, and under the hexagonal system, carbon crystallizes to form
graphite. Also, though diamond is in the same system as salt and garnet,
it is in a different class.
Crystals are produced whenever a solid is formed gradually from a
liquid and usually when the liquid is being cooled. A natural occurring
process in which crystals are formed is when lava erupts from the earth and
cools down. If the lava is cooled quickly, then a glassy rock called
obsidian is formed. If the cooling is considerably slower, a rock called
felsite is formed. Felsite is a type of crystal but the crystals are too
small to be seen with the naked eye. Crystals such as those on felsite are
called cryptocrystalline or aphanitic. If the cooling process were to be
slightly slower, then a rock called rhyolite is formed; the crystals ...

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