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Gradual Ordering in Red Abalone Nacre

Description: Red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) nacre is a layered composite biomineral that contains crystalline aragonite tablets confined by organic layers. Nacre is intensely studied because its biologically controlled microarchitecture gives rise to remarkable strength and toughness, but the mechanisms leading to its formation are not well understood. Here we present synchrotron spectromicroscopy experiments revealing that stacks of aragonite tablet crystals in nacre are misoriented with respect to each other. Quantitative measurements of crystal orientation, tablet size, and tablet stacking direction show that orientational ordering occurs not abruptly but gradually over a distance of 50 {micro}m. Several lines of evidence indicate that different crystal orientations imply different tablet growth rates during nacre formation. A theoretical model based on kinetic and gradual selection of the fastest growth rates produces results in qualitative and quantitative agreement with the experimental data and therefore demonstrates that ordering in nacre is a result of crystal growth kinetics and competition either in addition or to the exclusion of templation by acidic proteins as previously assumed. As in other natural evolving kinetic systems, selection of the fastest-growing stacks of tablets occurs gradually in space and time. These results suggest that the self-ordering of the mineral phase, which may occur completely independently of biological or organic-molecule control, is fundamental in nacre formation.
Date: September 3, 2008
Creator: Gilbert, P. U. P. A.; Metzler, Rebecca A.; Zhou, Dong; Scholl, Andreas; Doran, Andrew; Young, Anthony et al.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Mechanism of Calcite Co-Orientation in the Sea Urchin Tooth

Description: Sea urchin teeth are remarkable and complex calcite structures, continuously growing at the forming end and self-sharpening at the mature grinding tip. The calcite (CaCO{sub 3}) crystals of tooth components, plates, fibers, and a high-Mg polycrystalline matrix, have highly co-oriented crystallographic axes. This ability to co-orient calcite in a mineralized structure is shared by all echinoderms. However, the physico-chemical mechanism by which calcite crystals become co-oriented in echinoderms remains enigmatic. Here, we show differences in calcite c-axis orientations in the tooth of the purple sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus), using high-resolution X-ray photoelectron emission spectromicroscopy (X-PEEM) and microbeam X-ray diffraction ({mu}XRD). All plates share one crystal orientation, propagated through pillar bridges, while fibers and polycrystalline matrix share another orientation. Furthermore, in the forming end of the tooth, we observe that CaCO{sub 3} is present as amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC). We demonstrate that co-orientation of the nanoparticles in the polycrystalline matrix occurs via solid-state secondary nucleation, propagating out from the previously formed fibers and plates, into the amorphous precursor nanoparticles. Because amorphous precursors were observed in diverse biominerals, solid-state secondary nucleation is likely to be a general mechanism for the co-orientation of biomineral components in organisms from different phyla.
Date: December 1, 2009
Creator: Killian, Christopher; Metzler, Rebecca; Gong, Y. U. T.; Olson, Ian; Aizenberg, Joanna; Politi, Yael et al.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department