MAT_SCI 371: Biominerals: Hierarchical Architecture & Function

Quarter Offered

Winter : TTh 12:30-1:50 ; Joester




For more than 500 million years, "simple" sea urchins have used fiber-reinforced, graded, ceramic materials to build self-sharpening teeth. This may be astonishing; it is, however, by no means unique. Organisms from all domains make use of the materials properties of crystalline and amorphous solids (e.g. inorganic minerals) to provide physical integrity and sense gravity, to guide light and even perceive the earth's magnetic field. Evolutionary optimization has led to organic-inorganic composite structures of amazing complexity, ordered across many levels of hierarchy and on length scales.

In MSE 371 you will learn not only about the design, i.e. the structure and functional organization of biominerals, but also their integrated synthesis and even their importance for global processes such as the carbon cycle. We will examine some of the fundamentals of the interaction of organic and inorganic matter in biological systems, and study classic papers as well as current hot topics in this exciting and diverse field of research.

Textbook: None required