Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your crystal grow?

The textbook explanation for crystal growth usually invokes layer upon layer of material being deposited from solution on a seed crystal. Now, researchers at the University of Konstanz have observed a preliminary stage for the compound glutamic acid that contradicts this classical principal of growth. They see nano-clusters forming crystal growth rather than individual ions or molecules precipitating from solution. The team suggests that these nanoclusters are droplets of liquid but have not yet proved that. The effect is already known for macromolecules but not for much simpler small molecules.