Making mother of pearl from nanoparticles described in ScienceDaily 16 January 2016 and Nature Communications, 2015; 6: 10097 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10097. Stephan Wolf of University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and colleagues have studied the structure of nacre (mother of pearl) from a clam shell using high-resolution images from a scanning transmission electron microscope to see how nacre is formed. Nacre is a hard substance made from calcium carbonate, but it is not formed by crystallisation, where atoms or ions are deposited from a saturated solution. Instead, the scientists found that nacre was formed from calcium carbonate nanoparticles of 50 – 80nm in an organic matrix, which are grouped together to form crystalline aragonite platelets, which are then organised to form nacre platelets. (Aragonite is a particular form of Calcium Carbonate).

Stephan Wolf explained, “If we compare the growth process of mother-of-pearl to building a house, the clam uses a kind of prefabricated construction method, while crystallisation is like building a wall out of individual bricks.”

The platelets are embedded into an organic matrix that holds them together. This structure makes the nacre very strong and resilient. Wolf went on to explain “The fact that this layer structure is made up of smaller particles that also include organic material has a significant influence on the mechanical properties of the clam shell. A comparable crystalline material made of individual ions would break much more quickly.”

Materials scientists are working on developing high performance ceramics based on “templates found in nature”. According to Stephan Wolf, “We are looking at not only the form and resistance of the materials but also their energetic advantages. After all, mother-of-pearl doesn’t form in an oven, it forms in cold sea water.”


Editorial Comment: Time to admit it you evolutionists: making anything using prefabricated components involves design upon design. The prefabricated components have first to be designed and built using the properties of the raw materials to make components with the correct structure. Then these components have to be fitted together according to an overall design, using even more designed structures to hold them all together. Neither the components nor the overall structure are made by chance random processes.

This will become much more obvious if materials scientists ever do manage to make ceramics with properties similar to mother of pearl using techniques similar to how the shellfish makes nacre in cool sea water. And that will require much creative design and intelligent engineering. Any success will be a triumph of biomimetics – the new science of creating structures and devices based on natural substances and living organisms. As such, biomimetics reminds scientists, engineers and laypeople alike they are without excuse when they fail to see the creative design in the living world around them, and doubly guilty if they fail to give honour to the Creator Christ who made the living things we are trying to copy. (Ref. seashells, ceramics, biomimicry)

Evidence News vol. 16, No. 1
20 January 2016
Creation Research Australia