Biominerals are extraordinary composite materials made by living organisms. Examples of biominerals range from teeth and bones to exoskeletons and shells. The diversity in form
corresponds to diversity in function, composition, and structure. Some calcium carbonate (CaCO3) biominerals have highly ordered structures, with nacre (mother-of-pearl) being a prime example where the CaCO3 tablets are intermixed with organic molecules to make a brick wall of incredible strength. Other CaCO3 biominerals have no apparent structure, but rather have CaCO3 crystals oriented in random directions and mixed in no discernable organization with organic molecules. Three of these “disordered” CaCO3 biominerals are the adhesives of the
Eastern oyster and a freshwater mussel and the barnacle exoskeleton. To better understand how these materials function, we will explore the structure (light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy with electron backscatter diffraction), composition (energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy and infrared spectroscopy), and materials properties (hardness and fracture resistance).
- desire to do interdisciplinary research
Number of Student Researchers
Applications open on 01/03/2021 and close on 03/22/2021