Atomic Structure of Biogenic Aragonite

Atomic positions in geological aragonite and biogenic aragonite, obtained from several mollusk shells, were precisely measured by high-resolution neutron diffraction, which is more sensitive than X-ray diffraction to the positions of light atoms, C and O, in the CaCO<sub>3</sub> structure. Comparable analysis of atomic positions revealed, for the first time, the changes in some bond lengths and atomic configurations in biogenic specimens with respect to geological ones. Most pronounced are modifications in the aplanarity of the carbonate groups. These modifications correlate with the observed shifts of the ν<sub>2</sub> frequency in the IR absorption spectra. The changes in atomic positions as well as the changes in lattice parameters detected by high-resolution X-ray diffraction are attributed to the interaction between organic macromolecules and growing crystallites during biomineralization. The obtained results allow us deeper understanding of the specific routes used by nature for growing bio-composites with superior characteristics.