“Hidden” Hierarchy of Microfibrils within 3D-Periodic Fluorapatite–Gelatine Nanocomposites: Development of Complexity and Form in a Biomimetic System


  • We gratefully acknowledge the Fonds der Chemischen Industrie for generous support and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft for supporting parts of this work (KN 150/14-1). We also thank Dr. Horst Borrmann for X-ray investigations, Dr. Stefano Leoni for computational support, Francesco Tatti and Dr. Petr Formanek for FIB preparation, Dr. Steffen Wirth for fruitful discussions, and Prof. Dr. Hannes Lichte for the possibility to perform TEM measurements at the Triebenberg Laboratory.


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Taking shape: The 3D arrangement of a biomimetic fluorapatite–gelatine composite consists of elementary dipoles on the nanometer scale. The dipole field developed during growth of the composite causes formation and inclusion of gelatine microfibrils, which line up in the direction of the developing electric field. This microfibril pattern is the intrinsic code for development from an elongated hexagonal prism into a dumbbell morphology (see picture).