Templated and self-limiting calcite formation directed by coccolith organic macromolecules†
The formation of intricately shaped crystalline minerals by organisms is orchestrated by specialized biomacromolecules. The macromolecules associated with coccoliths, nanometer-sized calcite crystal arrays produced by marine microalgae, can form a distinct calcium-rich phase via macromolecular recognition. Here, we show that this calcium-rich phase can be mineralized into a thin film of single-crystalline calcite by the balanced addition of carbonate ions. Such a crystallization process provides a strategy to direct crystalline products via local interactions between soluble macromolecules and compatible templates.