Mother-of-Pearl on Ice

Scientists have found a way to copy the mother-of-pearl structures that oysters make.

By Emily Sohn, 00:00 AM January 27, 2006

Pearls are some of the more beautiful examples of nature's strength. The gemstones grow inside oysters, and they are remarkably sturdy and tough.

Now, scientists have found a way to copy what oysters have been doing all along. They've made a pearl-like material that could some day be useful for replacing weak bones and making machines. What's more, the method promises to be easy, cheap, and kind to the environment.

Oysters have a strong layer of armor called nacre (or mother-of-pearl). The substance is made up of tiny crystals pieced together like the bricks and mortar of a brick wall, as seen in this micrograph.

Oysters have a strong layer of armor called nacre (or mother-of-pearl). Th...

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