Current Awardee

Critical Molecular Interactions Underlying Biomineralization

Rosa M. Espinosa-Marzal

College: Engineering
Award year: 2014-2015

Biomineralization, a process by which organisms precipitate inorganic minerals, is a widespread phenomenon in nature. Biominerals have superior properties, such as high toughness and strength, and self-healing ability. Although biomineralization is the subject of active research, the underlying fundamental mechanisms are not yet understood. This project will provide understanding of the molecular interactions responsible for mineral formation and self-healing properties. Through a novel approach, the molecular interactions underlying biomineral formation will be directly explored via ab initio quantum chemistry methods. Although the cost of these simulations is very high, molecular-scale simulations are key for the required level of understanding. The long-term goal is to establish design principles for sustainable self-healing biomimetic materials.