Dislocation-actuated growth and inhibition of hexagonal l-cystine crystallization at the molecular level

Alexander G. Shtukenberg, Laura N. Poloni, Zina Zhu, Zhihua An, Misha Bhandari, Pengcheng Song, Andrew L. Rohl, Bart Kahr, Michael D. Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Crystallization of l-cystine is a critical process in the pathogenesis of kidney stone formation in cystinuria, a disorder affecting more than 20 000 individuals in the United States alone. In an effort to elucidate the crystallization of l-cystine and the mode of action of tailored growth inhibitors that may constitute effective therapies, real-time in situ atomic force microscopy has been used to investigate the surface micromorphology and growth kinetics of the {0001} faces of l-cystine at various supersaturations and concentrations of the growth inhibitor l-cystine dimethylester (CDME). Crystal growth is actuated by screw dislocations on the {0001} l-cystine surface, producing hexagonal spiral hillocks that are a consequence of six interlacing spirals of anisotropic molecular layers. The high level of elastic stress in the immediate vicinity around the dislocation line results in a decrease in the step velocities and a corresponding increase in the spacing of steps. The kinetic curves acquired in the presence of CDME conform to the classical Cabrera-Vermilyea model. Anomalous birefringence in the {101¯0} growth sectors, combined with computational modeling, supports a high fidelity of stereospecific binding of CDME, in a unique orientation, exclusively at one of the six crystallographically unique projections on the {101¯0} plane.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)921-934
Number of pages14
JournalCrystal Growth and Design
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 4 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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