Investigating Processes of Nanocrystal Formation and Transformation via Liquid Cell TEM
2014, Nielsen, Michael H., Li, Dongsheng, Zhang, Hengzhong, Aloni, Shaul, Han, T. Yong-Jin, Frandsen, Cathrine, Seto, Jong, Banfield, Jillian F., Cölfen, Helmut, De Yoreo, James J.
Recent ex situ observations of crystallization in both natural and synthetic systems indicate that the classical models of nucleation and growth are inaccurate. However, in situ observations that can provide direct evidence for alternative models have been lacking due to the limited temporal and spatial resolution of experimental techniques that can observe dynamic processes in a bulk solution. Here we report results from liquid cell transmission electron microscopy studies of nucleation and growth of Au, CaCO3, and iron oxide nanoparticles. We show how these in situ data can be used to obtain direct evidence for the mechanisms underlying nanoparticle crystallization as well as dynamic information that provide constraints on important energetic parameters not available through ex situ methods.
Formation of Aragonitic Layered Structures from Kaolinite and Amorphous Calcium Carbonate Precursors
2013-06-18, Seto, Jong, Azaı̈s, Thierry, Cölfen, Helmut
Clay materials have been an ever-present accoutrement of modern civilization; improvements to process these materials have quickened their utilization for use in complex multiaxial load-bearing structures. Specifically, with better methods to organize the constituent metal oxide components in clay, the distribution of characteristic nematic and smectic phases can be controlled. In this work, we utilize the interactions of an amorphous calcium carbonate phase with kaolinite to form a complex composite that can be organized into distinct hierarchical structures. We demonstrate that these ACC–kaolinite composites can maintain characteristic long-range-ordered layer-by-layer structures across many length scales, from nano- to millimeter, through convenient and economical processing at room temperature.
The multiple effects of amino acids on the early stages of calcium carbonate crystallization
2012, Picker, Andreas, Kellermeier, Matthias, Seto, Jong, Gebauer, Denis, Cölfen, Helmut
Proteins have found their way into many of Nature’s structures due to their structural stability, diversity in function and composition, and ability to be regulated as well as be regulators themselves. In this study, we investigate the constitutive amino acids that make up some of these proteins which are involved in CaCO3 mineralization – either in nucleation, crystal growth, or inhibition processes. By assaying all 20 amino acids with vapor diffusion and in situ potentiometric titration, we have found specific amino acids having multiple effects on the early stages of CaCO3 crystallization. These same amino acids have been independently implicated as constituents in liquid-like precursors that form mineralized tissues, processes believed to be key effects of biomineralization proteins in several biological model systems.
Hierarchically Nanostructured Biological Materials
2014, Seto, Jong, Rao, Ashit, Cölfen, Helmut
Biological materials are complex organic–inorganic hybrid materials having characteristic superior functional properties. Most spectacular is the ability for these materials to undergo the processes of growth, development, and regeneration directed by an external stimulus. And in many of these materials, a diversity of structural organizations from the nanometer to the millimeter length scales can be found to create a hierarchically nanostructured bulk material. Complexity is an understatement to describe the structure and function of these biological materials. We attempt to fully understand the superior performances of these biological materials here by drawing attention to the assembly and construction schemes of these nanostructured materials found in nature.
Nacre Protein Sequence Compartmentalizes Mineral Polymorphs in Solution
2014, Seto, Jong, Picker, Andreas, Chen, Yong, Rao, Ashit, Evans, John Spencer, Cölfen, Helmut
The Japanese pearl oyster (Pinctada fucata) n16 framework matrix protein is an integral part of the growth and formation of the mollusk shell biomineralization mechanism. It is a required component of the extracellular matrix with a dual mineralization role, as an anchor component to synchronize the assembly of the beta-chitin and N-series, Pif-series protein extracellular matrix for aragonite formation and as a regulator of aragonite formation itself. However, the mechanism by which this protein controls aragonite formation is not understood. Here, we investigate the mineralization potential and kinetics of the 30 AA N-terminal portion of the n16 protein, n16N. This sequence has been demonstrated to form either vaterite or aragonite depending upon conditions. Using in situ potentiometric titration methods, we find that n16N is indeed responsible for the self-assembly characteristics found in vivo and in vitro but is not involved with active Ca2+ binding or mineral nucleation processes. Upon the basis of time- and peptide concentration-dependent sampling of mineral deposits that form in solution, we find that n16N is responsible for controlling where mineralization occurs in bulk solution. This protein sequence acts as a molecular spacer that organizes the mineralization space and promotes the formation of mineral constituents that contain ACC, vaterite, and aragonite. Without the concerted action of the n16N assemblage, unregulated calcite formation occurs exclusively. Thus, the n16 protein provides the regulation needed to have the characteristic polymorph, crystalline orientations, and related mechanical properties associated to the microstructure of mollusk shells.
Structure-property relationships of a biological mesocrystal in the adult sea urchin spine
2012-03-06, Seto, Jong, Ma, Yurong, Davis, Sean A., Meldrum, Fiona, Gourrier, Aurelien, Kim, Yi-Yeoun, Schilde, Uwe, Sztucki, Michael, Burghammer, Manfred, Maltsev, Sergey, Jäger, Christian, Cölfen, Helmut
Structuring over many length scales is a design strategy widely used in Nature to create materials with unique functional properties. We here present a comprehensive analysis of an adult sea urchin spine, and in revealing a complex, hierarchical structure, show how Nature fabricates a material which diffracts as a single crystal of calcite and yet fractures as a glassy material. Each spine comprises a highly oriented array of Mg-calcite nanocrystals in which amorphous regions and macromolecules are embedded. It is postulated that this mesocrystalline structure forms via the crystallization of a dense array of amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC) precursor particles. A residual surface layer of ACC and/or macromolecules remains around the nanoparticle units which creates the mesocrystal structure and contributes to the conchoidal fracture behavior. Nature's demonstration of how crystallization of an amorphous precursor phase can create a crystalline material with remarkable properties therefore provides inspiration for a novel approach to the design and synthesis of synthetic composite materials.
Multiscale, Converging Defects of Macro-Porosity, Microstructure and Matrix Mineralization Impact Long Bone Fragility in NF1
2014, Kühnisch, Jirko, Seto, Jong, Kolanczyk, Mateusz
Bone fragility due to osteopenia, osteoporosis or debilitating focal skeletal dysplasias is a frequent observation in the Mendelian disease Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). To determine the mechanisms underlying bone fragility in NF1 we analyzed two conditional mouse models, Nf1Prx1 (limb knock-out) and Nf1Col1 (osteoblast specific knock-out), as well as cortical bone samples from individuals with NF1. We examined mouse bone tissue with micro-computed tomography, qualitative and quantitative histology, mechanical tensile analysis, small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX), and scanning acoustic microscopy (SAM). In cortical bone of Nf1Prx1 mice we detected ectopic blood vessels that were associated with diaphyseal mineralization defects. Defective mineral binding in the proximity of blood vessels was most likely due to impaired bone collagen formation, as these areas were completely devoid of acidic matrix proteins and contained thin collagen fibers. Additionally, we found significantly reduced mechanical strength of the bone material, which was partially caused by increased osteocyte volume. Consistent with these observations, bone samples from individuals with NF1 and tibial dysplasia showed increased osteocyte lacuna volume. Reduced mechanical properties were associated with diminished matrix stiffness, as determined by SAM. In line with these observations, bone tissue from individuals with NF1 and tibial dysplasia showed heterogeneous mineralization and reduced collagen fiber thickness and packaging. Collectively, the data indicate that bone fragility in NF1 tibial dysplasia is partly due to an increased osteocyte-related micro-porosity, hypomineralization, a generalized defect of organic matrix formation, exacerbated in the regions of tensional and bending force integration, and finally persistence of ectopic blood vessels associated with localized macro-porotic bone lesions.
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.