Forming amorphous calcium carbonate within hydrogels by enzyme-induced mineralization in the presence of N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine.
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Amorphous inorganic materials have a great potential in material science. Amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC) is a widely useable system, however, its stabilization often turns out to be difficult and the synthesis is mostly limited to precipitation in solution as nanoparticles. Stable ACC in bulk phases would create new composite materials. Previous work described the enzyme-induced mineralization of hydrogels with crystalline calcium carbonate by entrapping urease into a hydrogel and treating this with an aqueous mineralization solution containing urea und calcium chloride. Here, this method was modified using a variety of crystallization inhibitors attached to the hydrogel matrix or added to the surrounding mineralization solution. It was found that only N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine (PMGly) in solution completely inhibits the crystallization of ACC in the hydrogel matrix. The stability of the homogeneously precipitated ACC could be accounted to the combination of stabilizing effects of the additive and stabilization through confinement. The crystallization could be accelerated at higher temperatures up to 60 °C. Here, a combination of Mg ions and PMGly was required to stabilize ACC in the hydrogel. Variation of these two compounds can be used to control a number of different calcium carbonate morphologies within the hydrogel. While the ACC nanoparticles within the hydrogel are stable over weeks even in water, a calcite layer grows on the surface of the hydrogel, which might be used as self-hardening mechanism of a surface.Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.