Supervariate ceramics : biomineralization mechanism

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number100144
Journal / PublicationMaterials Today Advances
Online published18 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021



Ceramics are key components of life, forming elaborate and diverse structures found in coccolith, shells, skeletons, and teeth. In materials research, however, one generally finds ceramics difficult to process because of their high hardness and melting points. How organisms effortlessly build stunning ceramic architectures, in water and at mild temperature, remains a long-standing mystery to scientists. This study discloses that biomineralization likely operates through a supervariate mechanism based on multi-ionic solutions, a mechanism that enables convenient phase and kinetic regulation through stress control. Specifically, from solutions of multiple ionic components, bioceramics with highly variable (supervariate) compositions are first produced in a gelatinous state of exceptional stability, which offers convenience in material storage, transportation, molding, and processing. Counter-intuitively, the supervariate wet gels can be solidified by simply compacting them under a mild force, whereas the formulas (e.g. carbonates or phosphates), hydration levels, and phases (amorphous or crystalline) of the resultant bioceramics can be tailored. Furthermore, we propose that the biogenic amorphous minerals (e.g. amorphous calcium carbonate) are very likely stabilized by constricting their volume at the microscale, so that they are prohibited from undergoing the prerequisite dehydration step (which requires extra volume) preceding crystallization. The new biomineralization mechanism described here answers a pivotal question on bioceramics of life.

Research Area(s)

  • Amorphous, Biomineralization, Gelatinous inorganic materials, Multi-ionic system, Stabilization mechanism, Stress-induced transformation

Citation Format(s)

Supervariate ceramics : biomineralization mechanism. / Zhang, Guobin; Du, Peng; Zhong, Jing et al.

In: Materials Today Advances, Vol. 10, 100144, 06.2021.

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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