Crystal growth

The growth of a crystal under a microscope.

This early black and white silent film demonstrates the growth of a crystal under a microscope. It uses time-lapse imaging techniques to allow the viewer to see a spiral growth slowly appear on the surface of a crystal containing a single screw dislocation. Further crystal growth can then be seen from different angles.

It was first pointed out in 1949 by FC Frank that growth of crystals at low super-saturations, essential for good crystals, could take place because of the formation of dislocations in the crystal, so that any real crystal should have a number of dislocations with a screw component, terminating on the face. When growth takes place on these exposed molecular terraces, the edges of these layers develop into spirals centred on the dislocation. This phenomenon is highlighted by this film.

This film was made by AJ Forty and WR Harding at the HH Wills Physical Laboratory, University of Bristol.

For this film, and several others in our collection, we have tried to contact any known copyright holders and believe it to be an orphan work. If you are the rights holder, would like it to be taken down, or have any more information, please get in touch at

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