Non-photochemical laser-induced nucleation (NPLIN) is the formation of a new phase from a metastable phase by the action of light on matter. Using millijoule, nanosecond laser pulses at visible and near-infrared wavelengths, it is possible to form the new phase localized in the volume of the beam. In the case of nucleating molecular solids, the laser polarization may have an effect on the particular polymorph that is formed. Despite the huge potential for applications of NPLIN, there is uncertainty regarding the molecular-scale mechanism, and various possible scenarios may well be relevant to nucleation in general and not just NPLIN. In this Perspective, the discovery and phenomenology of NPLIN are described, putative mechanisms are outlined, and some observations on the broader class of nucleation phenomena are given.
- Complex solids
- Phase transitions