3D electron diffraction revealed a new nanocrystalline form of calcium carbonate.

An international team made of Hungarian, Austrian and Italian researchers discovered a new natural form of CaCO3, a well-known formula already associated with three polymorphic minerals: calcite, aragonite and vaterite. The new form was sampled in the first precipitates of percolating water inside a dolomitic Alpine cave, where it appears as sub-micrometric needles that naturally turn into conventional aragonite with time. Enrico Mugnaioli and Mauro Gemmi, of the Center for Nanotechnology Innovation@NEST (Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia), were able to unveil the atomic structure of these tiny crystals using 3D electron diffraction, a cutting-edge technique that allows structure determination of crystals too small for conventional X-ray methods. The structure of the new polymorph can be imagined as a modulated sequence of conventional aragonite layers, from which derived its name monoclinic-aragonite (mAra). mAra results to be a straight precursor of common aragonite explaining why this mineral, that should otherwise not form on Earth surface conditions, is so common among the carbonates playing a major role in bio-mineralizations.

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CNI is back in operation!

From today 4th of May CNI has started its way to go back to normal operation. Following the recommended safety procedures for COVID-19, the researchers started their activities in the TEM, Raman spectroscopy, 2D materials growth and characterization laboratories. Soon chemical synthesis and nanoteranostic will follow. The number of researchers that enter the lab every day is still limited but as the things will go better it will growth to normal condition. We hope also that soon PhD students and master student can join us prosecuting their thesis projects.