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Keywords:

  • biomineralization;
  • crystal growth;
  • nanocomposites;
  • oriented architecture;
  • sea urchin
Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

The sponge skeleton of the spine of sea urchins is found to be generated from nanocrystals 20–50 nm in size (main image). The nanocrystals make up the oriented architectures of various living species (see insets) in association with biopolymers; together they are in the form of inorganic–organic nanocomposites. This nanoengineering strategy offers the promise of the construction of unique macroscopic morphologies.