Composite crystals; a key to understanding biomineralisation and engineering superior materials?

John Harding – Project Lead (Sheffield)
Fiona Meldrum (Leeds)
Roland Kroger (York)

Professor John Harding (Sheffield) will co-ordinate a team of researchers on a project entitled ‘Composite crystals: a key to understanding biomineralisation and engineering superior materials?’. The collaboration will bring together the unique and complementary expertise of research groups across the White Rose universities to investigate a new theory of mineral formation. A novel hypothesis of biomineralisation proposes that pre-nucleation clusters aggregate to amorphous nano-particles that are then directed into crystallographic order by proteins, which adsorb onto their  surface. The project team will investigate the validity of this hypothesis by undertaking some preliminary experiments. The generation of pilot data from this study in a new field will then allow joint applications for funding to be submitted to a range of research funders.
Understanding the structure of corals: central photograph shows corallites of Porites Lutea (with some Christmas-tree worms present). Left-hand photograph is a diffraction pattern of the mineral building blocks (aragonite) of the corallite
and the right-hand photograph shows crystallites of the mineral. Courtesy Roland Kroeger, York

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