Nanostructure, osteopontin, and mechanical properties of calcitic avian eggshell

Dimitra Athanasiadou, Wenge Jiang, Dina Goldbaum, Aroba Saleem, Kaustuv Basu, Michael S. Pacella, Corinna F. Böhm, Richard R. Chromik, Maxwell T. Hincke, Alejandro B. Rodríguez-Navarro, Hojatollah Vali, Stephan E. Wolf, Jeffrey J. Gray, Khanh Huy Bui, Marc D. McKee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Avian (and formerly dinosaur) eggshells form a hard, protective biomineralized chamber for embryonic growth-an evolutionary strategy that has existed for hundreds of millions of years. We show in the calcitic chicken eggshell how the mineral and organic phases organize hierarchically across different length scales and how variation in nanostructure across the shell thickness modifies its hardness, elastic modulus, and dissolution properties. We also show that the nanostructure changes during egg incubation, weakening the shell for chick hatching. Nanostructure and increased hardness were reproduced in synthetic calcite crystals grown in the presence of the prominent eggshell protein osteopontin. These results demonstrate the contribution of nanostructure to avian eggshell formation, mechanical properties, and dissolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberaar3219
JournalScience Advances
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 30 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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