Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Scientists Develop Artificial Biominerals

Published: Thursday, September 08, 2011
Last Updated: Thursday, September 08, 2011
Bookmark and Share
Scientists have created synthetic crystals whose structures and properties mimic of naturally occurring biominerals.

Scientists have successfully created synthetic crystals whose structures and properties mimic those of naturally occurring biominerals such as seashells.

The findings, published in the journal Nature Materials, could be an important step in the development of high-performance materials, which could be manufactured under environmentally-friendly conditions.

Biological minerals or ‘biominerals’ occur widely throughout nature in structures such as bones, teeth and seashells and frequently show remarkable shapes and properties compared with their synthetic counterparts.

A key feature of biominerals is that they are composite materials, made from an inorganic mineral such as calcium carbonate which contains a small amount of organic material, usually a protein.

The resulting structures are incredibly hard and their mechanical properties can rival those of man-made materials such as ceramics, which are typically manufactured under high temperatures and pressures, giving less opportunity for control over the material properties.

Scientists are interested in understanding how biology is able to perform such precision engineering in water at ambient temperatures so they can apply this principle to the design and production of synthetic materials that are much greener than existing ones.

Now a team led by Professor Fiona Meldrum, from the University of Leeds School of Chemistry, has succeeded in creating artificial biominerals that exhibit similar properties to biominerals such as sea urchin spines.

They did this by growing calcite crystals in the presence of synthetic polymer nanoparticles which act as artificial proteins. These nanoparticles are incorporated into the architecture of the crystal as it grows to create a composite material.

The researchers also tested the mechanical properties of the composite material using a nanoindenter, a small chisel-like tool that can prod a material and record its response to a force.

Professor Meldrum said: “This method of creating synthetic biominerals gives us a unique insight into the structure of these incredible materials and the way the organic molecules are incorporated into the crystal structure at a microscopic level. We can then relate this microscopic structure to the mechanical properties of the material.

“What we found is that the artificial biomineral we have created is actually much harder than the pure calcite mineral because it is a composite material - where you add something soft to a hard substance to create something even harder than either of the constituent parts.”

Co-author Professor Stephen Eichhorn, who has just moved to the University of Exeter from the University of Manchester, said: "Biological examples of calcium carbonate-based structures have a higher hardness than pure mineral without proteins present. It is remarkable that we have been able to achieve the same result using a synthetic 'pseudo' protein."

"When I began researching the mechanical properties of seashells at Manchester my first PhD student and I literally collected them with a bucket and spade on the beach. I didn't imagine that we would get to the stage of being able to measure similar properties for materials made in the lab."

The researchers will now try to replicate their technique using different minerals. The research was a collaboration between the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester and York, and the Israel Institute of Technology. It was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,400+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Study Finds Non-Genetic Cancer Mechanism
Cancer can be caused solely by protein imbalances within cells, a study of ovarian cancer has found.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
New Insights into “Antenna” of Human Cells
Scientists from the University of Leeds have uncovered the most comprehensive list yet of genes implicated in a group of common inherited diseases.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Protein Responsible for Blood Vessel Growth in Tumours Discovered
Scientists have discovered a new protein which triggers the growth of blood vessels in breast cancer tumours which have spread to the brain, a common location which breast cancer can spread to.
Wednesday, July 01, 2015
Gold Nanotubes Launch A Three-Pronged Attack On Cancer Cells
Scientists have shown that gold nanotubes have many applications in fighting cancer: internal nanoprobes for high-resolution imaging; drug delivery vehicles; and agents for destroying cancer cells.
Monday, February 16, 2015
Stroke Damage Mechanism Identified
Researchers have discovered a mechanism linked to the brain damage often suffered by stroke victims—and are now searching for drugs to block it.
Monday, December 01, 2014
Breakthrough Allows Researchers to Watch Molecules “Wiggle”
A new crystallographic technique developed at the University of Leeds is set to transform scientists’ ability to observe how molecules work.
Tuesday, October 07, 2014
New Chemistry Chair for Institute of Process Research and Development Monday 11 July 2011
Professor Frans L Muller has been appointed as Chair in Chemical Process Engineering at the University of Leeds.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Scientific News
Study Finds Brain Chemicals that Keep Wakefulness in Check
Researchers to develop new drugs that promote better sleep, or control hyperactivity in people with mania.
Sorting Through Cellular Statistics
Aaron Dinner, professor in chemistry, and his graduate student Herman Gudjonson are trying to read the manual of life, DNA, as part of the Dinner group’s research into bioinformatics—the application of statistics to biological research.
Playing 'Tag' with Pollution lets Scientists See Who's It
Using a climate model that can tag sources of soot from different global regions and can track where it lands on the Tibetan Plateau, researchers have determined which areas around the plateau contribute the most soot — and where.
Women’s Immune System Genes Operate Differently from Men’s
A new technology reveals that immune system genes switch on and off differently in women and men, and the source of that variation is not primarily in the DNA.
Long Telomeres Associated with Increased Lung Cancer Risk
Genetic predisposition for long telomeres predicts increased lung adenocarcinoma risk.
First Artificial Ribosome Designed
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University have engineered a tethered ribosome that works nearly as well as the authentic cellular component, or organelle, that produces all the proteins and enzymes within the cell.
High-Resolution 3D Images Reveal the Muscle Mitochondrial Power Grid
NIH mouse study overturns scientific ideas on energy distribution in muscle.
Expanding the Brain
A team of researchers has identified more than 40 new “imprinted” genes, in which either the maternal or paternal copy of a gene is expressed while the other is silenced.
Identifying a Key Growth Factor in Cell Proliferation
Researchers discover that aspartate is a limiter of cell proliferation.
Study Uncovers Target for Preventing Huntington’s Disease
Scientists from Cardiff University believe that a treatment to prevent or delay the symptoms of Huntington’s disease could now be much closer, following a major breakthrough.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,400+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!