Special Topics in Materials: Hydrothermal Crystal Growth

CRN 17236 – Fall 2019


Maria C. Gelabert                                                                              

Sims 314A, x4939                              Office Hours: M 12:30-1:30, TW 9:30-10:30 or by appointment



Course Subject

In this course, we will explore water for its vast ability to grow crystals and importance to the environment and living systems. Hydrothermal methods can be used for synthesis of nanoscale to large industrial-sized crystals, and many minerals found in the earth grow under these conditions. Ocean vents, found deep in the anaerobic ocean floor, support unusual biological systems and mineral growth. Many technologies and scientific research connect to hydrothermal chemistry, which you are encouraged to explore according to your interests.



Learning goals for this course are broken up into the following:

·    Fundamental properties of water and the technologies that use it;

·    Understanding the role of water in the environment;

·    Study of hydrothermal conditions and growth of crystals;

·    Practice of informal presentations based on literature articles;

·    Compiling related materials into a debatable thesis for a short research paper.




Attendance/participation                    15%

Chalk Talks (≥5)                                 40%

Annotated Bibliography                       15%

Research Paper Draft                          10%

Research Paper (5-6 pages)                  20%



Students with Disabilities/Need of Accommodations for Access

Winthrop University is dedicated to providing access to education. If you have a disability and require specific accommodations to complete this course, contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at 803-323-3290. Once you have your official notice of accommodations from the Office of Disability Services, please inform me as early as possible in the semester.



Student Conduct Code

As noted in the Student Conduct Code: ''Responsibility for good conduct rests with students as adult individuals.'' The policy on student academic misconduct is outlined in the Student Conduct Code- Academic Misconduct Policy in the online Student Handbook


Major Topics



In addition to these brief lectures, reading will be assigned for discussion. In addition, approximately every other week, you will also be presenting articles for 6-8 minute “Chalk Talks”.




            August 20                    First meeting


            August 27                    Phase diagram of water


            September 3                Water: density, viscosity and steam tables


            September 10              Solubility, saturation and supersaturation


            September 17              Binary phase diagrams: NaCl and CaSO4 with water


            September 24              Nucleation and growth of crystals


            October 1                    Crystal growth of molecules vs. extended (ionic) solids, by evaporation or supersaturation


            October 8                    Hydrothermal growth with seed crystal


            October 15                  Fall Break


            October 21                  Hydrothermal methods: nanoscale powders to large crystals


            October 28                  Giant crystals in caves: gypsum


            November 4                Hydrothermal mounds: ocean floor


            November 11              Mineralogy of hydrothermal vents


            November 18              Biology in hydrothermal vents


            November 25              Final paper due 12/2



Chalk Talk Guidelines



Each person will present an 6-8 minute oral presentation related to a reliable non-encyclopedic source, ideally a scholarly article from a peer-reviewed science journal. You may use up to 2 Powerpoint slides for: a) citation information; and b) any complicated structures, pictures or graphs that you may not wish to draw on the whiteboard. The majority of the talk will be presented on the whiteboard. You may use notecards. Reading from the original paper and/or notecards is strongly discouraged. Your presentation should include:


·      Title of the article


·      Reference (author, journal name, volume, year, page numbers)


·      Outline of presentation


·      Summarized abstract


·      Background information and importance of the work


·      Purpose of the article


·      Structures of relevant molecules or materials


·      Experimental details


·      Conclusions drawn by author/researchers




·      Before choosing an article, do not read the whole thing.  Use abstracts and scan the remainder of the paper to see how appropriate it is for you.


·      Once the article is chosen, scan it and search for main points: purpose, experimental, discussion/conclusions.  Take notes.


·      Armed with the main points, read more specifically on each of those.  Take notes.


·      Read the experimental section carefully, using any additional sources to educate yourself on the techniques.  Take notes.


·      Begin putting your outline together based on your notes.


·      Practice, preferably with a friend, concentrating on timing, content and flow.