skip to main content


Title: Direct observation of mineral–organic composite formation reveals occlusion mechanism

Manipulation of inorganic materials with organic macromolecules enables organisms to create biominerals such as bones and seashells, where occlusion of biomacromolecules within individual crystals generates superior mechanical properties. Current understanding of this process largely comes from studying the entrapment of micron-size particles in cooling melts. Here, by investigating micelle incorporation in calcite with atomic force microscopy and micromechanical simulations, we show that different mechanisms govern nanoscale occlusion. By simultaneously visualizing the micelles and propagating step edges, we demonstrate that the micelles experience significant compression during occlusion, which is accompanied by cavity formation. This generates local lattice strain, leading to enhanced mechanical properties. Furthermore, these results give new insight into the formation of occlusions in natural and synthetic crystals, and will facilitate the synthesis of multifunctional nanocomposite crystals.
 [1] ; ORCiD logo [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [2] ;  [6] ;  [6] ;  [3] ;  [2] ;  [7]
  1. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States); Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
  2. Univ. of Leeds, Leeds (United Kingdom)
  3. Univ. of Sheffield, Sheffield (United Kingdom)
  4. Stanford Univ., Stanford, CA (United States)
  5. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States); Zhejiang Univ., Hangzhou (China)
  6. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
  7. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States); Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 2041-1723; ncomms10187
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 7; Journal ID: ISSN 2041-1723
Nature Publishing Group
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
37 INORGANIC, ORGANIC, PHYSICAL, AND ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY; 36 MATERIALS SCIENCE physical sciences; bioengineering; materials science; physical chemistry
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1249368