The pathway to mother of pearl

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Science  06 Nov 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6261, pp. 647-648
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6261.647-c

Abalone shells grow from amorphous calcium carbonate precursors


The material inside mollusk shells, nacre, is remarkably tough and also gives the shells their sheen. Nacre is a hybrid of aragonitic calcium carbonate and an organic matrix, but it's unclear how it starts growing. Using synchrotron-based microscopy and spectroscopy, DeVol et al. identified amorphous calcium carbonate from nacre growth fronts in sea snails. The amorphous precursors, which had previously been observed in calcitic biominerals such as sea urchin spicules, more closely resembled calcite than aragonite. Yet coral, which is also aragonitic, grows via an aragonitelike precursor. How nacre transforms calcite-like precursors into aragonite crystals remains unresolved.

J. Am. Chem. Soc. 10.1021/jacs.5b07931 (2015).

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