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Science. 2003 Feb 21;299(5610):1205-8.

Direct fabrication of large micropatterned single crystals.

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Bell Laboratories/Lucent Technologies, Murray Hill, NJ 07974, USA.


Micropatterning of single crystals for technological applications is a complex, multistep process. Nature provides alternative fabrication strategies, when crystals with exquisite micro-ornamentation directly develop within preorganized frameworks. We report a bio-inspired approach to growing large micropatterned single crystals. Micropatterned templates organically modified to induce the formation of metastable amorphous calcium carbonate were imprinted with calcite nucleation sites. The template-directed deposition and crystallization of the amorphous phase resulted in the fabrication of millimeter-sized single calcite crystals with sub-10-micron patterns and controlled crystallographic orientation. We suggest that in addition to regulating the shape, micropatterned frameworks act as sites for stress and impurity release during the amorphous-to-crystalline transition. The proposed mechanisms may have direct biological relevance and broad implications in materials synthesis.

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