Mimicking the way mother of pearl is created in nature, scientists have for the first time synthesized the strong, iridescent coating found on the inside of some molluscs.
The research was published July 24 in the journal Nature Communications.
Nacre, also called mother of pearl, is the iridescent coating that is found on the inside of some molluscs and on the outer coating of pearls. By recreating the biological steps that form nacre in molluscs, the scientists were able to manufacture a material which has a similar structure, mechanical behavior, and optical appearance of that found in nature.
In order to create the artificial nacre, the scientists followed three steps. First, they had to take preventative measure to ensure the calcium carbonate, which is the primary component of nacre, does not crystallize when precipitating from the solution. This is done by using a mixture of ions and organic components in the solution that mimics how molluscs control this. The precipitate can then be adsorbed to surfaces, forming layers of well-defined thickness.
Next, the precipitate layer is covered by an organic layer that has 10-nm wide pores, which is done in a synthetic procedure invented by co-author Alex Finnemore. Finally, crystallization is induced, and all steps are repeated to create a stack of alternating crystalline and organic layers.
- Category: Science & Technology