Abstract

Calcium carbonate biominerals are frequently analysed in materials science due to their abundance, diversity and unique material properties. Aragonite nacre is intensively studied, but less information is available about the material properties of biogenic calcite, despite its occurrence in a wide range of structures in different organisms. In particular, there is insufficient knowledge about how preferential crystallographic orientations influence these material properties. Here, we study the influence of crystallography on material properties in calcite semi-nacre and fibres of brachiopod shells using nano-indentation and electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD). The nano-indentation results show that calcite semi-nacre is a harder and stiffer (H ≈ 3–5 GPa; E = 50–85 GPa) biomineral structure than calcite fibres (H = 0.4–3 GPa; E = 30–60 GPa). The integration of EBSD to these studies has revealed a relationship between the crystallography and material properties at high spatial resolution for calcite semi-nacre. The presence of crystals with the c-axis perpendicular to the plane-of-view in longitudinal section increases hardness and stiffness. The present study determines how nano-indentation and EBSD can be combined to provide a detailed understanding of biomineral structures and their analysis for application in materials science.

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