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Electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) is a fast method which is able to provide molecular mass information with high precision. In this contribution, we show that prenucleation clusters—species recently found to play a pivotal role in crystallisation processes—are detected in addition to monomers by analytical ultracentrifugation (AUC) for the whole range of DL-amino acids, while higher oligomers are simultaneously observed in ESI-MS spectra. This suggests ESI-MS is a fast method to identify systems, which form prenucleation clusters. The occurrence of these clusters as relevant precursors in non-classical nucleation scenarios thus appears to be a more common phenomenon than so far assumed.
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