Aggregation-based crystal growth and microstructure development in natural iron oxyhydroxide biomineralization products

J. F. Banfield, S. A. Welch, H. Zhang, T. T. Ebert, R. L. Penn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

674 Citations (Scopus)


Crystals are generally considered to grow by attachment of ions to inorganic surfaces or organic templates. High-resolution transmission electron microscopy of biomineralization products of iron-oxidizing bacteria revealed an alternative coarsening mechanism in which adjacent 2- to 3-nanometer particles aggregate and rotate so their structures adopt parallel orientations in three dimensions. Crystal growth is accomplished by eliminating water molecules at interfaces and forming iron-oxygen bonds. Self-assembly occurs at multiple sites, leading to a coarser, polycrystalline material. Point defects (from surface-adsorbed impurities), dislocations, and slabs of structurally distinct material are created as a consequence of this growth mechanism and can dramatically impact subsequent reactivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)751-754
Number of pages4
Issue number5480
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2000
Externally publishedYes

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