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Journal Articles Journal of Structural Biology Year : 2013

Crystallographic control on the substructure of nacre tablets


Nacre tablets of mollusks develop two kinds of features when either the calcium carbonate or the organic portions are removed: (1) parallel lineations (vermiculations) formed by elongated carbonate rods, and (2) hourglass patterns, which appear in high relief when etched or in low relief if bleached. In untreated tablets, SEM and AFM data show that vermiculations correspond to aligned and fused aragonite nano-globlules, which are partly surrounded by thin organic pellicles. EBSD mapping of the surfaces of tablets indicates that the vermiculations are invariably parallel to the crystallographic a-axis of aragonite and that the triangles are aligned with the b-axis and correspond to the advance of the {0 1 0} faces during the growth of the tablet. According to our interpretation, the vermiculations appear because organic molecules during growth are expelled from the a-axis, where the Ca-CO3 bonds are the shortest. In this way, the subunits forming nacre merge uninterruptedly, forming chains parallel to the a-axis, whereas the organic molecules are expelled to the sides of these chains. Hourglass patterns would be produced by preferential adsorption of organic molecules along the {0 1 0), as compared to the {1 0 0} faces. A model is presented for the nanostructure of nacre tablets. SEM and EBSD data also show the existence within the tablets of nanocrystalline units, which are twinned on (11 0) with the rest of the tablet. Our study shows that the growth dynamics of nacre tablets (and bioaragonite in general) results from the interaction at two different and mutually related levels: tablets and nanogranules.

Dates and versions

hal-01452679 , version 1 (02-02-2017)



Antonio G. Checa, Harry Mutvei,, Antonio J. Osuna-Mascaró, Jan T. Bonarski,, Marek Faryna,, et al.. Crystallographic control on the substructure of nacre tablets. Journal of Structural Biology, 2013, 183 (3), pp.368-376. ⟨10.1016/j.jsb.2013.07.014⟩. ⟨hal-01452679⟩
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