Berg, John K.
New insights into the nucleation of magnesium hydroxide and the influence of poly(acrylic acid) during the early stages of Mg(OH)2 crystallisation
2022-11-17, Scheck, Johanna, Berg, John K., Drechsler, Markus, Kempter, Andreas, Van Driessche, Alexander E. S., Cölfen, Helmut, Gebauer, Denis, Kellermeier, Matthias
Nucleation is a unique process with broad relevance across a wide range of scientific disciplines and applications. While considerable progress in the understanding of the mechanisms underlying the nucleation of minerals from solution has been made for popular model systems such as calcium carbonate, corresponding detailed insights are still missing for other, less prominent minerals. Here, we present a potentiometric titration-based method that allows the early stages of the crystallisation of brucite, Mg(OH)2, to be monitored and quantified. Together with complementary characterisation provided by (cryogenic) transmission electron microscopy, the collected data shed novel light on the species occurring prior to, during, and after nucleation of brucite. In the second part of the work, the newly developed approach was applied to investigate the effects of added poly(acrylic acid) on the different stages of the crystallisation process. The polymer is found to stabilise brucite nanoplatelets and co-precipitate with the inorganic phase, yielding a composite material. The methodology established in this study can readily be used to screen other chemistries for their ability to prevent magnesium hydroxide scaling and/or afford brucite nanomaterials with tailored properties.
Sweet on biomineralization : effects of carbohydrates on the early stages of calcium carbonate crystallization
2014, Rao, Ashit, Berg, John K., Kellermeier, Matthias, Gebauer, Denis
The present study aims to elucidate the effects of different carbohydrates on the early stages of calcium carbonate mineralization by following a systematic potentiometric titration-based approach. Distinct mono-, oligo- and polysaccharides were evaluated with respect to their influence on the formation of solute pre-nucleation clusters, the nucleation process itself, and the solubility of the initially precipitated phase. By assaying 29 carbohydrates, we show that sugar stereochemistry, polarity, presence of Ca2+ binding sites, as well as the nature of glycosidic linkages can play an important role in the interactions between the additives and the mineral species occurring in the course of CaCO3 crystallization from solution.
Entropy Drives Calcium Carbonate Ion Association
2016-11-04, Kellermeier, Matthias, Raiteri, Paolo, Berg, John K., Kempter, Andreas, Gale, Julian D., Gebauer, Denis
The understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the early stages of crystallisation is still incomplete. In the case of calcium carbonate, experimental and computational evidence suggests that phase separation relies on so-called pre-nucleation clusters (PNCs). A thorough thermodynamic analysis of the enthalpic and entropic contributions to the overall free energy of PNC formation derived from three independent methods demonstrates that solute clustering is driven by entropy. This can be quantitatively rationalised by the release of water molecules from ion hydration layers, explaining why ion association is not limited to simple ion pairing. The key role of water release in this process suggests that PNC formation should be a common phenomenon in aqueous solutions.
Mg2+ tunes the wettability of liquid precursors of CaCO3 : Toward controlling mineralization sites in hybrid materials
2013-08-28, Berg, John K., Jordan, Thomas, Binder, Yvonne, Börner, Hans G., Gebauer, Denis
Amorphous and liquid precursors of calcium carbonate are believed to be central species of biomineralization, which serves as an important inspiration for materials chemists in the quest for new and improved organic–inorganic hybrid materials. It has become increasingly clear that magnesium ions exhibit an important function through kinetic stabilization of the metastable precursors. We show that they additionally tune the wettability of liquid precursors of CaCO3, which is a crucial requirement for successful mineralization of proteinaceous organic matrices. Moreover, tunable wettability offers straightforward means to control mineralization sites in organic–inorganic hybrids.
pH-Dependent Schemes of Calcium Carbonate Formation in the Presence of Alginates
2016-03-02, Rao, Ashit, Vásquez-Quitral, Patricio, Fernández, María S., Berg, John K., Sánchez, Marianela, Drechsler, Markus, Neira-Carrillo, Andrónico, Arias, José L., Gebauer, Denis, Cölfen, Helmut
From recent studies on bone and shell formation, the importance of polysaccharides in biomineralization processes is gradually being recognized. Through ion-complexation and self-assembly properties, such macromolecules have remarkable effects on mineralization. However, their influences on the different regimes of crystallization including the interactions with precursor species are unclear. The present study therefore addresses calcium carbonate mineralization in the presence of alginates, a class of linear copolymeric saccharides composed of β-1,4 linked d-mannuronic and l-guluronic acid. During mineralization, this biopolymer is found to exert pH-dependent control over mineralization pathways in terms of the stability of prenucleation clusters, inhibitory effect toward nucleation and initially formed postnucleation products. Remarkably in the presence of this macromolecular additive, either amorphous or crystalline vaterite particles can be selectively nucleated in a pH-dependent manner. This is validated by electron microscopy wherein vaterite particles are intimately associated with alginate assemblies after nucleation at pH 9.75. At lower pH, aggregates of amorphous particles are formed. Thus, in addition to the general focus on biochemical properties of additives, solution pH, a physiologically fundamental parameter significantly alters the scheme of mineralization.
Roles of larval sea urchin spicule SM50 domains in organic matrix self-assembly and calcium carbonate mineralization
2013-08, Rao, Ashit, Seto, Jong, Berg, John K., Kreft, Stefan G., Scheffner, Martin, Cölfen, Helmut
The larval spicule matrix protein SM50 is the most abundant occluded matrix protein present in the mineralized larval sea urchin spicule. Recent evidence implicates SM50 in the stabilization of amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC). Here, we investigate the molecular interactions of SM50 and CaCO3 by investigating the function of three major domains of SM50 as small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) fusion proteins - a C-type lectin domain (CTL), a glycine rich region (GRR) and a proline rich region (PRR). Under various mineralization conditions, we find that SUMO-CTL is monomeric and influences CaCO3 mineralization, SUMO-GRR aggregates into large protein superstructures and SUMO-PRR modifies the early CaCO3 mineralization stages as well as growth. The combination of these mineralization and self-assembly properties of the major domains synergistically enable the full-length SM50 to fulfill functions of constructing the organic spicule matrix as well as performing necessary mineralization activities such as Ca(2+) ion recruitment and organization to allow for proper growth and development of the mineralized larval sea urchin spicule.