Scientists unravel secrets of mother of pearl

Washington, Dec 22 (IANS) The inner lining of the shells of mother of pearl known as nacre and certain other molluscs is renowned for an amazing strength and toughness that has been a long-standing mystery. Now, scientists have uncovered a new aspect of nacre’s nanostructural architecture, using the polarized x-ray beams and nanoscale imaging capabilities of the Advanced Light Source (ALS), a national synchrotron facility at the Berkeley Lab.

Pupa Gilbert, physics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who led this research said “nacre is a biomineral composed of thin layers of crystalline aragonite tablets separated by even thinner layers of organic material.”

“Our studies have revealed that the aragonite tablet crystals in nacre are misoriented with respect to each other. This unique structural arrangement was a surprise and could play a role in nacre’s remarkable resistance to fracture.”

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