The ubiquitous mineralization of calcium phosphate (CaP) facilitates biological organisms to produce hierarchically structured minerals. The coordination number and strength of Ca2+ ions with phosphate species, oxygen-containing additives, and solvent molecules played a crucial role in tuning nucleation processes and surface stability of CaP under the simulated body fluid (SBF) or aqueous solutions upon the addition of oligomeric lactic acid (LACn, n=1, 8) and changing pH values. As revealed by ab initio molecular dynamics (AIMD), density functional theory (DFT), and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations as well as high-throughput experimentation (HTE), the binding of LAC molecules with Ca2+ ions and phosphate species could stabilize both pre-nucleation clusters and brushite (DCPD, CaHPO4·2H2O) surface through intermolecular electrostatic and hydrogen bonding interactions. When the concentration of Ca2+ ions ([Ca2+]) is very low, the amount of the formed precipitation decreased with the addition of LAC based on UV-Vis spectroscopic analysis due to the reduced chance for the LAC capped Ca2+ ions to coordinate with phosphates and the increased solubility in acid solution. With the increasing [Ca2+] concentration, the kinetically stable DCPD precipitation was obtained with high Ca2+ coordination number and low surface energy. Morphologies of DCPD precipitation are in plate, needle, or rod, depending on the initial pH values that tuned by adding NH3·H2O, HCl, or CH3COOH. The prepared samples at pH ≈ 7.4 with different Ca/P ratios exhibited negative zeta potential values, which were correlated with the surface electrostatic potential distributions and potential biological applications.
Surface Stability and Morphology of Calcium Phosphate Tuned by pH Values and Lactic Acid Additives: Theoretical and Experimental Study