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Formation of Chemical Gardens

Julyan H. E. Cartwright, Juan Manuel García-Ruiz, María Luisa Novella, and Fermín Otálora

J. Colloid Interface Sci. 256, 351-359, 2002

Keywords: Chemical garden; colloidal garden; crystal garden; silica garden; silicate garden; Portland cement hydration; corrosion tubes; origin of life.


Chemical gardens are the plant-like structures formed on placing together a soluble metal salt, often in the form of a seed crystal, and an aqueous solution of one of many anions, often sodium silicate. We have observed the development of chemical gardens with Mach-Zehnder interferometry. We show that a combination of forced convection from osmosis and free convection from buoyancy, together with chemical reaction, is responsible for their morphogenesis.

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Julyan Cartwright 2002-12-13