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Nanoscale control of the polymerization of silicon and oxygen determines the structures and properties of a wide range of siloxane-based materials, including glasses, ceramics, mesoporous molecular sieves and catalysts, elastomers, resins, insulators, optical coatings, and photoluminescent polymers. In contrast to anthropogenic and geological syntheses of(More)
Earth's biota produces vast quantities of polymerized silica at ambient temperatures and pressures by mechanisms that are not understood. Silica spicules constitute 75% of the dry weight of the sponge Tethya aurantia, making this organism uniquely tractable for analyses of the proteins intimately associated with the biosilica. Each spicule contains a(More)
Properties of the organic matrix of bone as well as its function in the microstructure could be the key to the remarkable mechanical properties of bone. Previously, it was found that on the molecular level, calcium-mediated sacrificial bonds increased stiffness and enhanced energy dissipation in bone constituent molecules. Here we present evidence for how(More)
The standard model for the structure of collagen in tendon is an ascending hierarchy of bundling. Collagen triple helices bundle into microfibrils, microfibrils bundle into subfibrils, and subfibrils bundle into fibrils, the basic structural unit of tendon. This model, developed primarily on the basis of x-ray diffraction results, is necessarily vague about(More)
gamma-Aminobutyric acid (a simple amino acid and potent neurotransmitter in human brain and other tissues of higher animals) and certain of its congeners rapidly and synchronously induce planktonic larvae of the red abalone, Haliotis rufescens, to settle and commence behavioral and developmental metamorphosis. These naturally occurring inducers of algal(More)
Almost all mineralized tissues contain proteins that are unusually acidic. As they are also often intimately associated with the mineral phase, they are thought to fulfill important functions in controlling mineral formation. Relatively little is known about these important proteins, because their acidic nature causes technical difficulties during(More)
A specialized extracellular matrix of proteins and polysaccharides controls the morphology and packing of calcium carbonate crystals and becomes occluded within the mineralized composite during formation of the molluscan shell and pearl. We have cloned and characterized the cDNA coding for Lustrin A, a newly described matrix protein from the nacreous layer(More)
Structural materials in nature exhibit remarkable designs with building blocks, often hierarchically arranged from the nanometer to the macroscopic length scales. We report on the structural properties of biosilica observed in the hexactinellid sponge Euplectella sp. Consolidated, nanometer-scaled silica spheres are arranged in well-defined microscopic(More)
In biological systems such as diatoms and sponges, the formation of solid silica structures with precisely controlled morphologies is directed by proteins and polysaccharides and occurs in water at neutral pH and ambient temperature. Laboratory methods, in contrast, have to rely on extreme pH conditions and/or surfactants to induce the condensation of(More)
In recent years, the important role of the organic matrix for the mechanical properties of bone has become increasingly apparent. It is therefore of great interest to understand the interactions between the organic and inorganic constituents of bone and learn the mechanisms by which the organic matrix contributes to the remarkable properties of this complex(More)