Thermodynamics of Calcite Growth: Baseline for Understanding Biomineral Formation

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Abstract

The complexity of biomineralized structures suggests the potential of organic constituents for controlling energetic factors during crystal synthesis.Atomic force microscopy was used to investigate the thermodynamic controls on carbonate growth and to measure the dependence of step speed on step length and the dependence of critical step length on supersaturation in precisely controlled solutions. These data were used to test the classic Gibbs-Thomson relationship and provided the step edge free energies and free energy barriers to one-dimension nucleation for calcite. Addition of aspartic acid, a common component in biomineralizing systems, dramatically affected growth morphology and altered the magnitude of the surface energy.

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