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Physics Colloquium - Friday, November 20th, 2009, 4:00 P.M.

E300 Math/Science Center; Refreshments at 3:30 P.M. in Room E200

Susan Coppersmith

Department of Physics
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Understanding the Microarchitecture of Mother-of-Pearl

Biominerals have attracted the attention of materials scientists, biologists, and mineralogists as well as physicists because of their remarkable mechanical properties and incompletely elucidated formation mechanisms. Nacre, or mother-of-pearl, is a layered biomineral composite that is widely studied because of its self-assembled, efficient and accurately ordered architecture results in remarkable resistance to fracture. The aragonite crystal tablets in nacre orient so that their c-axes are aligned perpendicular to the layers. By using novel experimental tools, we have studied this orientational ordering and have found evidence that it is the result of dynamical self-organization.