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J Colloid Interface Sci. 2005 Aug 1;288(1):97-103.

Self-assembly of synthetic hydroxyapatite nanorods into an enamel prism-like structure.

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School of Dentistry, University of Michigan, 1011 North University, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1078, USA.


The application of surfactants as reverse micelles or microemulsions for the synthesis and self-assembly of nanoscale structures is one of the most widely adopted methods in nanotechnology. These synthesized nanostructure assemblies sometimes have an ordered arrangement. The aim of this research was to take advantage of these latest developments in the area of nanotechnology to mimic the natural biomineralization process to create the hardest tissue in the human body, dental enamel. This is the outermost layer of the teeth and consists of enamel prisms, highly organized micro-architectural units of nanorod-like calcium hydroxyapatite (HA) crystals arranged roughly parallel to each other. In particular, we have synthesized and modified the hydroxyapatite nanorods surface with monolayers of surfactants to create specific surface characteristics which will allow the nanorods to self-assemble into an enamel prism-like structure at a water/air interface. The size of the synthetic hydroxyapatite nanorods can be controlled and we have synthesized nanorods similar in size to both human and rat enamel. The prepared nanorod assemblies were examined using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The specific Langmuir-Blodgett films were shown to be comprised of enamel prism-like nanorod assemblies with a Ca/P ratio between 1.6 and 1.7.

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