Nanoscale characterization of nautilus shell structure: An example of natural self-assembly

Rod Velázquez-Castillo, J. Reyes-Gasga, D. I. García-Gutierrez, M. Jose-Yacaman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Structural characterization at the nanometric scale of the Nautilus sp shell was carried out by high-resolution transmission electron microscopy and high-angle annular dark field to understand how the organic and inorganic components are related. The inorganic phase that built the shell is made of calcium carbonate (CaCO3), with the orthorhombic unit cell of the aragonite, in a texturized arrangement in such a way that the c-axis is always perpendicular to the shell surface. The organic material forms films through the plates. We observed for a very first time some aragonite nanocrystals embedded in the organic matrix. This observation supports the hypothesis that the proteins and other organic compounds guide the crystal growth because the organic matrixes are the places where the nanocrystals grow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1484-1489
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Materials Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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