In biomineralization, acidic macromolecules play important roles for the growth control of crystals through a specific interaction. Inspired by this interaction, we report on an application of the hierarchical structures in CaCO3 biominerals to a stationary phase of chromatography. The separation and purification of acidic small organic molecules are achieved by thin-layer chromatography and flash chromatography using the powder of biominerals as the stationary phase. The unit nanocrystals and their oriented assembly, the hierarchical structure, are suitable for the adsorption site of the target organic molecules and the flow path of the elution solvents, respectively. The separation mode is ascribed to the specific adsorption of the acidic molecules on the crystal face and the coordination of the functional groups to the calcium ions. The results imply that a new family of stationary phase of chromatography can be developed by the fine tuning of hierarchical structures in CaCO3 materials.
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