Chapter 13. Dynamics of Biomineralization and Biodemineralization

  1. Astrid Sigel2,
  2. Helmut Sigel2 and
  3. Roland K. O. Sigel3
  1. Lijun Wang and
  2. George H. Nancollas

Published Online: 1 JUN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470986325.ch13

Biomineralization: From Nature to Application, Volume 4

Biomineralization: From Nature to Application, Volume 4

How to Cite

Wang, L. and Nancollas, G. H. (2008) Dynamics of Biomineralization and Biodemineralization, in Biomineralization: From Nature to Application, Volume 4 (eds A. Sigel, H. Sigel and R. K. O. Sigel), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9780470986325.ch13

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Department of Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, University of Basel, Spitalstrasse 51, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland

  2. 3

    Institute of Inorganic Chemistry, University of Zürich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zürich, Switzerland

Author Information

  1. Department of Chemistry, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, Buffalo, NY 14260, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 JUN 2010
  2. Published Print: 2 JAN 2008

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470035252

Online ISBN: 9780470986325



  • additive effect;
  • biomineralization;
  • constant composition;
  • crystal growth;
  • crystallization modulation;
  • dissolution;
  • homo/heterogeneous nucleation


In order to understand the fundamental processes leading to biomineralization, this chapter focuses on the earliest events of homo/heterogeneous nucleation from an initial supersaturated solution phase and subsequent growth involving various possible precursor phases (amorphous or crystalline) to the final mineral phase by specific template and other influences. We also discuss how the combination of macroscopic constant composition and microscopic atomic force microscopy provides insights into the physical mechanisms of crystal growth and phase stability and the influences of proteins, peptides or other small molecules.

Biodemineralization reactions of tooth enamel and bone may be inhibited or even suppressed when particle sizes fall into certain critical nanoscale levels. This phenomenon actually involves particlesize- dependent critical conditions of energetic control at the molecular level. Clearly, this dissolution termination is a kinetic phenomenon and cannot be attributed to reaction retardation as a result of surface modification by additives. Almost all biomineralized structures are highly hierarchical at many different length scales. At the lowest level they often consist of tiny crystals, typically tens to hundreds of nanometers. This size is not arbitrary; rather, it seems to give biominerals such as bone and tooth remarkable physical characteristics.