Organic Bio-crystallization: Optically Functional Organic Crystals in Animals Provide Inspiration for New Materials

Physical and Analytical Chemistry Seminar

Lecturer: Dr. Benjamin Palmer

25-25 Nov 2018 @ 12:30

Location: Faculty Seminar Room


Many animals use crystals of small organic molecules to manipulate light. These organisms exert exquisite control over the growth and hierarchical organization of the crystals to produce an extraordinary variety of optical phenomena. These concepts are illustrated by two of nature’s most remarkable visual systems: the concave mirrored eyes of the scallop(1) and the reflecting compound eyes of crustaceans(2). Unusually, both of these visual systems use mirrors rather than lenses to form images. We show how the function of the eyes depends on the hierarchical organization of the mirrors from the structure and morphology of the substituent reflecting organic crystals at the nanoscale to the overall shape of the mirrors at the millimeter scale. We also discuss future directions in this emerging field including the implications for new bio-inspired materials. Could understanding biological crystallization strategies pave the way for the development of new organic crystalline materials with rationally crystal properties?


(1) B.A. Palmer*, G.J. Taylor, V. Brumfeld, D. Gur, M. Shemesh, N. Elad, A. Osherov, D. Oron, S. Weiner, L. Addadi,* Science 2017, 358, 1172.

(2) B.A. Palmer*, A. Hirsch, V. Brumfeld, N. Elad, D. Oron, L. Kronik, L. Leiserowitz, S. Weiner, L. Addadi,* PNAS, 2018, 115, 2299.