Crystallization is fundamental to many aspects of physics and chemistry in addition to being of technological relevance, for example, in the chemical, food, and pharmaceutical industries. However, the design of crystalline materials and crystallization processes is often challenging due to the many variables that can influence the process. As a part of an effort to gain a molecular-level understanding of the way molecules aggregate and organize themselves into crystal structures, in this work we present a new method to construct order parameters suitable for the study of crystallization and polymorph transformations in molecular systems. Our order parameters can be systematically defined for complex systems using information that can be obtained from simple molecular dynamics simulations of the crystals. We show how to construct the order parameters for the study of three different systems: the formation of α-glycine crystals in solution, the crystallization of benzene from the melt, and the polymorph transformation of terephthalic acid. Finally, we suggest how these order parameters could be used to study order-disorder transitions in molecular systems.
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