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Nanoengineering in Echinoderms: The Emergence of Morphology from Nanobricks


  • This work was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (no. 15560587) and the 21st Century COE program “KEIO Life Conjugated Chemistry” from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (Japan). Y.O. is grateful for a JSPS research fellowship for young scientists.


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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.