The organization of nanostructures across several length scales by self-assembly is a key challenge in the design of advanced materials. In meeting this challenge, materials scientists can learn much from biomineralization processes in nature. These processes result in hybrid inorganic–organic materials with exquisite and optimized properties, complex forms, and hierarchical order over extended length scales.
Biominerals are usually produced in the presence of an insoluble organic template as well as soluble molecules, which control inorganic crystallization, growth, and selfassembly. These processes can be mimicked successfully, resulting in inorganic–organic hybrid materials with complex form and mesoscale order via a nanoparticle selfassembly process.Various strategies can be applied, including the balancing of aggregation and crystallization, transforming and reorganizing of pre-formed nanoparticle building blocks, and face-selective coding of nanoparticle surfaces by additives for controlled self-assembly. The underlying principles of biomimetic mineralization will be described, along with selected examples showing that while much has already been achieved, the perfection of natural systems is still out of reach.