April 26, 2013

Sea Squirt Helps Solve Century-Old Puzzle

By using state-of-the-art high-resolution transmission electron microscopy to examine crystals found in and on the bodies of small marine organisms called sea squirts, a team of scientists led by the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology has resolved the nearly 100 year-old mystery about the crystal structure of the mineral called vaterite. The findings are published in the current issue (April 26, 2013) of SCIENCE.

Vaterite is a form of calcium carbonate – one of nature’s most abundant minerals.  It can be found in gallstones and in certain geological structures. It is also a component of cement, where its quick transformation into other more stable forms of calcium carbonate when exposed to water, helps make cement hard and water resistant.