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Biophys J. 2000 Dec; 79(6): 3307–3312.
PMCID: PMC1301204

Direct observation of the transition from calcite to aragonite growth as induced by abalone shell proteins.


The mixture of EDTA-soluble proteins found in abalone nacre are known to cause the nucleation and growth of aragonite on calcite seed crystals in supersaturated solutions of calcium carbonate. Past atomic force microscope studies of the interaction of these proteins with calcite crystals did not observe this transition because no information about the crystal polymorph on the surface was obtained. Here we have used the atomic force microscope to directly observe changes in the atomic lattice on a calcite seed crystal after the introduction of abalone shell proteins. The observed changes are consistent with a transition to (001) aragonite growth on a (1014) calcite surface.

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