On the Role of Poly-Glutamic Acid in the Early Stages of Iron(III) (Oxy)(hydr)oxide Formation
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Pre-nucleation clustersIron (III) hydrolysisPoly-L-glutamic acidNucleationAdditivecontrolled mineralization
Luki´c, M.J.; Lücke, F.; Ili´c, T.; Petrovi´c, K.; Gebauer, D. On the Role of Poly-Glutamic Acid in the Early Stages of Iron(III) (Oxy)(hydr)oxide Formation. Minerals 2021, 11, 715. https:// doi.org/10.3390/min11070715
SponsorshipInstitute of Technical Sciences of SASA - Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia (451-03-9/2021-14/200175); IAESTE Belgrade organization and DAAD
Nucleation of minerals in the presence of additives is critical for achieving control over the formation of solids in biomineralization processes or during syntheses of advanced hybrid materials. Herein, we investigated the early stages of Fe(III) (oxy)(hydr)oxide formation with/without polyglutamic acid (pGlu) at low driving force for phase separation (pH 2.0 to 3.0). We employed an advanced pH-constant titration assay, X-ray diffraction, thermal analysis with mass spectrometry, Fourier Transform infrared spectroscopy, and scanning electron microscopy. Three stages were observed: initial binding, stabilization of Fe(III) pre-nucleation clusters (PNCs), and phase separation, yielding Fe(III) (oxy)(hydr)oxide. The data suggest that organic–inorganic interactions occurred via binding of olation Fe(III) PNC species. Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) analyses revealed a plausible interaction motif and a conformational adaptation of the polypeptide. The stabilization of the aqueous Fe(III) system against nucleation by pGlu contrasts with the previously reported influence of poly-aspartic acid (pAsp). While this is difficult to explain based on classical nucleation theory, alternative notions such as the so-called PNC pathway provide a possible rationale. Developing a nucleation theory that successfully explains and predicts distinct influences for chemically similar additives like pAsp and pGlu is the Holy Grail toward advancing the knowledge of nucleation, early growth, and structure formation.