Natural Opal as a Model System for Studying the Process of Biomineralization
Opal is a natural nanostructure model. It possesses nanosized close packed silica spheres and a regular sublattice of voids, filled with molecular water and accessible for filling by other substances. Using natural opal as a substrate, no complimentary technique is needed to produce a patterned surface as it is present naturally. Thus, the possession of nano-dimensions for efficient influencing of different biological events can be used in the laboratory and biologically integrated multifunctional devices (biomaterials, sensors) could be created. Additionally, biomineralization mechanisms may be studied using model systems. The main purpose of the work is to use nanostructured or other functionalized materials as models to contribute to the study of biomineralization. Particularly this paper reports on the ability of natural opal from Bulgaria's Eastern Rhodopes mountain to induce the deposition of a surface layer of calcium phosphate from simulated body fluid. Raman, infrared spectroscopy and XRD were used to show that opal consists of two main phases: microcrystalline quartz and cristobalite and that the observed with optical microscopy layer deposited from the simulated body fluid on both phases was calcium phosphate.
Radu Robert Piticescu, Witold Lojkowski and John R. Blizzard
L. Pramatarova et al., "Natural Opal as a Model System for Studying the Process of Biomineralization", Solid State Phenomena, Vol. 106, pp. 75-78, 2005