Flexible Minerals: Self-Assembled Calcite Spicules with Extreme Bending Strength

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Science  15 Mar 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6125, pp. 1298-1302
DOI: 10.1126/science.1216260

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Glass or metal fibers can show incredible flexibility. Natalio et al. (p. 1298; see the Perspective by Sethmann) used the protein silicatein-α, which is responsible for the biomineralization of silicates in sponges, to guide the formation of spicules made of calcite. These synthetic spicules could be bent to a high degree because of their inherent elasticity, whilst retaining the ability to guide light.