Research report (imported) 2003 - Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces
The investigation of crystallization processes is a long established field of science. Crystals have a smallest unit called the unit cell and all crystal forms can be related to it with the consequence that crystals always exhibit planar surfaces. Crystals are built from ions or molecules. Recently, the investigation of so-called biominerals has revealed that not all crystals fit the classical textbook picture. For example biominerals, which are minerals deposited by living organisms like skeletons of algae, exhibit crystal morphologies with complex form, which even show untypical curvature. Thus they deviate significantly from the classical planar crystal surfaces. Furthermore, biominerals are often highly optimised composite materials like bones, teeth or mussle shells. This is achieved by a control of the crystallization process by structure directing molecules. Furthermore, recent investigations have revealed that these crystals are not always formed according to the rules of classical crystallography e.g. via regular attachment of ions or molecules to a growing crystal. The project group "Biomimetic Mineralization" tries to mimic and understand the control of crystallization processes via structure directing additives or non-classical structuration processes. By this approach, not only biomineralization processes can be understood, but also new environmentally friendly ways of materials synthesis in water at ambient temperature with biocompatible components can be investigated and established.