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Kim, Yi-Yeoun; Schenk, Anna S.; Ihli, Johannes; Kulak, Alex N.; Hetherington, Nicola B. J.; Tang, Chiu C.; Schmahl, Wolfgang W.; Griesshaber, Erika; Hyett, Geoffrey; Meldrum, Fiona C. (2014): A critical analysis of calcium carbonate mesocrystals. In: Nature Communications, Vol. 5, 4341


The term mesocrystal has been widely used to describe crystals that form by oriented assembly, and that exhibit nanoparticle substructures. Using calcite crystals co-precipitated with polymers as a suitable test case, this article looks critically at the concept of mesocrystals. Here we demonstrate that the data commonly used to assign mesocrystal structure may be frequently misinterpreted, and that these calcite/polymer crystals do not have nanoparticle substructures. Although morphologies suggest the presence of nanoparticles, these are only present on the crystal surface. High surface areas are only recorded for crystals freshly removed from solution and are again attributed to a thin shell of nanoparticles on a solid calcite core. Line broadening in powder X-ray diffraction spectra is due to lattice strain only, precluding the existence of a nanoparticle sub-structure. Finally, study of the formation mechanism provides no evidence for crystalline precursor particles. A re-evaluation of existing literature on some mesocrystals may therefore be required.