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Physics  2007 

Ordering in red abalone nacre

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Red abalone nacre is an intensely studied biomineral, and yet its formation mechanism remains poorly understood. Here we report quantitative measurements probing the degree of order of the aragonite tablets in nacre, and show that order develops over a distance of about 50 microns. These observations indicate that the orientational order of aragonite tablets in nacre is established gradually and dynamically, and we show that a model of controlled assembly based on suppression of the crystal growth rate along a specific direction, when growth is confined in a layered structure, yields a tablet pattern consistent with those revealed by detailed experimental measurements. This work provides strong evidence that the organism s control of crystal orientation in nacre occurs via regulation of crystal nucleation and growth as opposed to direct templation or heteroepitaxial growth on organic molecules on the organic matrix sheets.


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