Applied Physics A

, 122:1031 | Cite as

A structural approach in the study of bones: fossil and burnt bones at nanosize scale

  • Giampaolo PigaEmail author
  • Maria Dolors Baró
  • Irati Golvano Escobal
  • David Gonçalves
  • Calil Makhoul
  • Ana Amarante
  • Assumpció Malgosa
  • Stefano Enzo
  • Sebastiano Garroni
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Innovation in Art Research and Technology


We review the different factors affecting significantly mineral structure and composition of bones. Particularly, it is assessed that micro-nanostructural and chemical properties of skeleton bones change drastically during burning; the micro- and nanostructural changes attending those phases manifest themselves, amongst others, in observable alterations to the bones colour, morphology, microstructure, mechanical strength and crystallinity. Intense changes involving the structure and chemical composition of bones also occur during the fossilization process. Bioapatite material is contaminated by an heavy fluorination process which, on a long-time scale reduces sensibly the volume of the original unit cell, mainly the a-axis of the hexagonal P63/m space group. Moreover, the bioapatite suffers to a varying degree of extent by phase contamination from the nearby environment, to the point that rarely a fluorapatite single phase may be found in fossil bones here examined. TEM images supply precise and localized information, on apatite crystal shape and dimension, and on different processes that occur during thermal processes or fossilization of ancient bone, complementary to that given by X-ray diffraction and Attenuated Total Reflection Infrared spectroscopy. We are presenting a synthesis of XRD, ATR-IR and TEM results on the nanostructure of various modern, burned and palaeontological bones.


Average Crystallite Size Fluorapatite Fossil Bone Dicalcium Phosphate Dihydrate Burned Bone 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors thank Dr. Àngel Galobart (Institut Català de Paleontologia, Sabadell-Barcelona, Spain) for supplying the fossil osseous materials employed in this study. The authors also thank the Serveis de Microscopia, Dr. Eva Pellicer and Elisa Tolu (Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona) for their technical assistance. This work is supported by Autonomous Region of Sardinia (LR3/2008-R.Cervelli, S.Politiche), with the research project titled: “Archaeometric and physico-chemical investigation using a multi-technique approach on archaeological, anthropological and paleontological materials from the Mediterranean area and Sardinia”.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giampaolo Piga
    • 1
    Email author
  • Maria Dolors Baró
    • 2
  • Irati Golvano Escobal
    • 2
  • David Gonçalves
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Calil Makhoul
    • 5
  • Ana Amarante
    • 6
  • Assumpció Malgosa
    • 7
  • Stefano Enzo
    • 8
  • Sebastiano Garroni
    • 8
  1. 1.POLCOMING-Department of Political Science, Communication, Engineering and Information TechnologiesUniversity of SassariSassariItaly
  2. 2.Departament de FísicaUniversitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)BellaterraSpain
  3. 3.Department of Life Sciences, Research Centre for Anthropology and HealthUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  4. 4.Archaeosciences LaboratoryDirectorate General for Cultural Heritage and LARC/CIBIO/InBIOLisbonPortugal
  5. 5.Department of Life Sciences, Centre for Functional EcologyUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  6. 6.Department of Life Sciences, Faculty of Sciences and TechnologyUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  7. 7.GROB (Grup de Recerca en OsteoBiografia), Unitat d’Antropologia Biològica, Dept. BABVE, Facultat de BiociènciesUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterraSpain
  8. 8.Department of Chemistry and PharmacyUniversity of SassariSassariItaly

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