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Cluster of Excellence

Engineering of Advanced Materials

Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg


Cluster of Excellence
Engineering of
Advanced Materials (EAM)

Nägelsbachstrasse 49b
91052 Erlangen, Germany
02. May 2017

Picture of the month: Nonclassical crystallization processes and a disorder-to-order transition drive nacre formation

With their task-optimized micro- and nanostructures, biominerals serve as inspiration for the design of advanced materials. However, insufficient understanding of the crystallization mechanisms is considerably impeding successful mimesis. Our high-resolution scanning transmission electron microscopic analysis has provided the first evidence for nonclassical crystallization in a biomineralization process in vivo. We observed that nacre forms by assembly of 50 –80 nm primary mineral building blocks. The concomitant disorder-to-order transition originates on the nanoscale and is also translated to the microscale as an increase in co-alignment of the individual nacre platelets.

Hovden, R.; Wolf, S. E.; Holtz, M. E.; Marin, F.; Muller, D. A.; Estroff, L. A.
Nanoscale assembly processes revealed in the nacroprismatic transition zone of Pinna nobilis mollusc shells.
Nature Communications 2015, 6:10097.
Reproduced under the terms of the Creative Common licence CC BY 4.0.


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