Biomimetic control of crystal assembly by growth in an organic hydrogel network

Olaf Grassmann 1 , Reinhard B. Neder 2 , Andrew Putnis 3  and Peer Löbmann 1
  • 1 Lehrstuhl für Silicatchemie, University of Würzburg, Röntgenring 11, D-97070 Würzburg, Germany
  • 2 Mineralogisches Institut, University of Würzburg, Am Hubland, D-97074 Würzburg, Germany
  • 3 Institut für Mineralogie, University of Münster, Corrensstraße 24, D-48149 Münster, Germany


Calcite aggregates are mineralized in an organic poly-acrylamide hydrogel using a counter diffusion arrangement. The particles obtained show a characteristic pseudo-octahedral morphology, which is unexpected for calcite crystals. Scanning and transmission electron microscopy reveal a microstructure composed of individual highly aligned calcite crystallites. Although the aggregates consist of independent crystallites, the X-ray diffraction patterns suggest calcite single crystals. By analogy with some biominerals, the inorganic assembly is intergrown with an organic hydrogel network. A specific model is proposed for growth of the aggregate.

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