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No. 70: Jul-Aug 1990

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Crystal Engineering

Left to themselves, molecules of calcium carbonate tend to crystallize into neat rhombohedrons. But when a sea urchin gets hold of the same molecules, its biological machinery coaxes them into crystallizing into long spines, complete with pores and curved edges. X-ray diffraction patterns prove that the spines are all one crystal. In like fashion, bacteria mold miniature single-crystal bar magnets for navigational purposes. Many animals indulge in crystal engi neering. Now if we can only train organisms to build crystalline electronic devices for us. Biogenic chips?

(Mann, Stephen; "Crystal Engineering: The Natural Way," New Scientist, p. 42. March 10, 1990.)

From Science Frontiers #70, JUL-AUG 1990. 1990-2000 William R. Corliss