In the October 31 issue of Science magazine, Allison Stephenson, a Ph.D. candidate in geoscience, and Patricia Dove, professor of geoscience in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, and colleagues* report that a hydrophilic peptide, similar in character to those found in calcifying organisms, significantly enhances the magnesium (Mg)-content of calcite.
"We knew from another study in our group (Elhadj et al., 2006, PNAS) that the chemistry of simple peptides as well as proteins could be tuned to control crystal growth rate and change crystal morphology," said Dove. "From that understanding, we realized that the water-structuring abilities of certain biomolecules could also influence the amount of impurities that can go into minerals."
"All organisms use proteins to grow minerals into complex shapes with remarkable functions," said lead author Stephenson. "But this finding is especially meaningful for geologists because Mg-content in carbonates is used as a 'paleo thermometer'. That is, we know that Mg content increases with temperature, but now we see that certain biomolecules could also affect those 'signatures'. The findings raise questions about the interplay of different factors on metal-contents in biominerals."
The findings also offer new insights for materials synthesis because a high degree of control on impurities is often necessary to give specific properties such as strength or electrical conductivity. By using biomolecules, it may be possible to tune impurities to desired levels, Dove said.
"Also, this basic research suggests new ways of looking at biochemical origins of pathological skeletal mineralization, and whether local biochemistry could influence the uptake of toxic metals into human skeletons," Stephenson said.
Susan Trulove | EurekAlert!
UCI and NASA document accelerated glacier melting in West Antarctica
26.10.2016 | University of California - Irvine
Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere
25.10.2016 | American Geophysical Union
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences
27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
27.10.2016 | Life Sciences