MRS Bulletin

Technical Feature

Technical Feature

Particle Engineering: Fundamentals of Particle Formation and Crystal Growth

Alfred Y. Lee and Allan S. Myerson


The engineering of particles with customized properties optimized for dosage form manufacture (tablet, capsule, ointment, etc.) has long been a goal of the pharmaceutical industry. Particles can be designed through modification in the size, morphology, and packing arrangement of the solids. The most common approach in achieving this is through crystallization. In this bottom-up process, the two main steps, nucleation and crystal growth, both play a decisive role in shaping the quality of the final crystalline product. In this review, the role of nucleation and crystal growth in controlling particle properties is discussed, and examples are provided that demonstrate the variation in solid-state properties as a function of size, habit (morphology), and internal structure of the particles. In addition, the role of particle properties in product performance and dosage form development of pharmaceuticals is also discussed.


  • crystal growth;
  • morphology;
  • nucleation;
  • particle

Alfred Y. Lee recently joined GlaxoSmithKline Inc. as a principal scientist in the Particle Sciences group. Previously, he had been a postdoctoral researcher at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). In 2005, he completed his PhD degree in chemical engineering at IIT under the supervision of Allan S. Myerson. His scientific interests include solution crystallization, nucleation and growth of molecular crystals, and polymorphism.

He is the recipient of the 2003 AIChE Separations Division Graduate Student Research Award in Crystallization and Evaporation.

Lee can be reached at GlaxoSmithKline Inc., 709 Swedeland Road, UW2830, PO Box 1539, King of Prussia, PA 19406 USA; tel 610-270-5947, fax 610-270-6570, and e-mail

Allan S. Myerson is the Phillip Danforth Armour Professor of Engineering, provost, and senior vice president at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. Myerson earned his BS degree at Columbia University and his MS and PhD degrees at the University of Virginia in chemical engineering. Prior to his position at IIT, Myerson served on the faculties of Polytechnic University in New York, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Dayton. His research focuses on crystallization from solution with an emphasis on nucleation, polymorphism, and industrial applications of crystallization.

Myerson has published five books, including the Handbook of Industrial Crystallization; 140 papers; and 20 patents on crystallization and related areas. He also serves as associate editor of Crystal Growth and Design, a journal published by the American Chemical Society.

Myerson can be reached at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Office of the Provost, 10 W. 33rd Street, Suite 223, Perlstein Hall, Chicago, IL 60616-3793 USA; tel. 312-567-3163, fax 312-567-7018, and email