When you think of the word "crystal," you think, perhaps, of wedges of quartz stone, ice crystals, and salt -- not organic flowing forms or flowers. But by manipulating chemical gradients in a beaker of fluid, Harvard postdoctoral fellow Wim L. Noorduin has managed to control the growth of barium carbonate crystals to form very controlled sculptures of flowers, with petals, stems, and leaves.
How the crystal forms depends on the mixture of chemicals in a solution. As the chemical gradients react, the pH can change, causing the crystals to grow away from or toward the gradient, enabling Noorduin to coax the forms into leaves radiating outward, a ling, thin stem, or the petals of the flower head. … Read more