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Title: The role of confined collagen geometry in decreasing nucleation energy barriers to intrafibrillar mineralization

Mineralization of collagen is critical for the mechanical functions of bones and teeth. Calcium phosphate nucleation in collagenous structures follows distinctly different patterns in highly confined gap regions (nanoscale confinement) than in less confined extrafibrillar spaces (microscale confinement). Although the mechanism(s) driving these differences are still largely unknown, differences in the free energy for nucleation may explain these two mineralization behaviors. Here, we report on experimentally obtained nucleation energy barriers to intra- and extrafibrillar mineralization, using in situ X-ray scattering observations and classical nucleation theory. Polyaspartic acid, an extrafibrillar nucleation inhibitor, increases interfacial energies between nuclei and mineralization fluids. In contrast, the confined gap spaces inside collagen fibrils lower the energy barrier by reducing the reactive surface area of nuclei, decreasing the surface energy penalty. The confined gap geometry, therefore, guides the two-dimensional morphology and structure of bioapatite and changes the nucleation pathway by reducing the total energy barrier.
ORCiD logo [1] ; ORCiD logo [2] ;  [3] ; ORCiD logo [1]
  1. Washington Univ., St. Louis, MO (United States). Dept. of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering
  2. Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States). X-ray Science Division
  3. Columbia Univ., New York, NY (United States). Dept. of Orthopedic Surgery
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
AC02-06CH11357; DMR-1608545; DMR-1608554
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 9; Journal ID: ISSN 2041-1723
Nature Publishing Group
Research Org:
Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States); Washington Univ., St. Louis, MO (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22); National Science Foundation (NSF)
Country of Publication:
United States
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES; biomaterials; biomineralization
OSTI Identifier: