Crystal-like Structure

This article begins by comparing crystals to mother of pearl. Then it moves into problems in robotics that are being solved by building intelligence into form and shape.

Crystals, Information And The Origin of Life – [technologyreview.com]

The combination of information theory and crystallography should lead to a better understanding of DNA molecules, cells and perhaps even complex living things like humans

. . .

They point out that the convergence of crystallography, materials science and biology is opening up a new approach to the study of structure, form and function. This new science is concerned not with static shapes in stable equilibria but metastable forms that are at the mercy of the energy landscape in which they exist and the flow of information to and from the environment.

Cartwright and Mackay give as an example the structure of mother of pearl, the beautiful irridescent biomineral that certain molluscs produce as an inner lining for their shells.

This is certainly an ordered, crystal-like structure but not one that produces the necessary diffraction pattern to be classed as a crystal.

That’s the result of its complexity. Mother of pearl is formed from layers of hexagonal plates of calcium carbonate in a ‘brickwork’ arrangement. These layers are separated by sheets of biopolymers, such as chitin.

This combination produces useful properties. The organic sheets prevent the spread of cracks while the platelets provide strength. So mother of pearl is strong, hard wearing and beautiful.

SEE ALSO:
Quasicrystals
Metallic Glass
Photonic Colloidal Crystals

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