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Mollusk Shell Formation: A Source of New Concepts for Understanding Biomineralization Processes



The biological approach to forming crystals is proving to be most surprising. Mollusks build their shells by using a hydrophobic silk gel, very acidic aspartic acid rich proteins, and apparently also an amorphous precursor phase from which the crystals form. All this takes place in a highly structured chitinous framework. Here we present ideas on how these disparate components work together to produce the highly structured pearly nacreous layer of the mollusk shell.

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