Revealing crystalline domains in a mollusc shell single-crystalline prism

Abstract : Biomineralization integrates complex processes leading to an extraordinary diversity of calcareous biomineral crystalline architectures, in intriguing contrast with the consistent presence of a sub-micrometric granular structure. Hence, gaining access to the crystalline architecture at the mesoscale, that is, over a few granules, is key to building realistic biomineralization scenarios. Here we provide the nanoscale spatial arrangement of the crystalline structure within the ‘single-crystalline’ prisms of the prismatic layer of a Pinctada margaritifera shell, exploiting three-dimensional X-ray Bragg ptychography microscopy. We reveal the details of the mesocrystalline organization, evidencing a crystalline coherence extending over a few granules. We additionally prove the existence of larger iso-oriented crystalline domains, slightly misoriented with respect to each other, around one unique rotation axis, and whose shapes are correlated with iso-strain domains. The highlighted mesocrystalline properties support recent biomineralization models involving partial fusion of oriented nanoparticle assembly and/or liquid droplet precursors.
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Francesca Mastropietro, Pierre Godard, Manfred Burghammer, Corinne Chevallard, Jean Daillant, et al.. Revealing crystalline domains in a mollusc shell single-crystalline prism. Nature Materials, Nature Publishing Group, 2017, 16, pp.946-952. ⟨10.1038/nmat4937⟩. ⟨hal-01559691⟩

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