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Crystallization Mechanisms in Biominerals

Event Details

Event Dates: 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 4:00pm

Seminar Location: 

  • Duane Physics Room G1B20

Speaker Name(s): 

Pupa Gilbert

Speaker Affiliation(s): 

University of Wisconsin
Seminar Type/Subject

Scientific Seminar Type: 

  • Physics Department Colloquium

Event Details & Abstract: 

Biominerals include mollusk shells and the skeletons of algae, sponges, corals, sea urchins and most other animals. The function of biominerals are diverse: mechanical support, attack, defense, grinding, biting, and chewing, gravitational and magnetic field sensing, light focusing, and many others. The exquisite nanostructure of biominerals is directly controlled by the organisms, which have evolved to master the chemico-physical aspects of mineralization. By controlling the inorganic precursor nanoparticle size, packing, and phase transitions, organisms efficiently fill space, produce tough and hard structures, with micro- or macroscopic morphology optimized for their functions. Specifically, this talk will show the complex architecture of mollusk shell nacre, or mother-of-pearl, and how it is formed by animal-controlled self-assembly.