PerspectiveStructural Biology

Choosing the Crystallization Path Less Traveled

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Science  12 Aug 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5737, pp. 1027-1028
DOI: 10.1126/science.1114920

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Many organisms use a most unexpected strategy for forming large single crystals such as those that make up mineralized skeletal parts. Although nucleation and growth of a crystal occur from a solid disordered phase that has the characteristics of a melt phase, the process is accomplished at ambient temperatures and pressures. This strategy allows organisms to mold the crystals into unusual shapes and orient them at will.