MIT, DANAT establish research collaboration on pearl identification

MIT and The Bahrain Institute for Pearls and Gemstones (DANAT) established a research collaboration to develop advanced characterization tools for the analysis of the properties of pearls and to explore technologies to assign unique identifiers to individual pearls.

The three-year project will be led by Civil and Environmental Engineering Associate Professor Admir Mas?ic´, in collaboration with the Fariborz Maseeh Chair in Emerging Technology and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Professor Vladimir Bulovic´,.

The project will develop new materials characterization tools and technologies to assign unique identifiers to individual pearls.

“Pearls are extremely complex and fascinating hierarchically ordered biological materials that are formed by a wide range of different species,” says Mas?ic´.

“Working with DANAT provides us a unique opportunity to apply our lab’s multi-scale materials characterization tools to identify potentially species-specific pearl fingerprints, while simultaneously addressing scientific research questions regarding the underlying biomineralization processes that could inform advances in sustainable building materials.”

Like many other precious gemstones, pearls have been man-made through scientific experimentation, says DANAT Chief Executive Officer Noora Jamsheer.

“Gemological labs have been innovating scientific testing methods to differentiate between natural pearls and all other pearls that exist because of direct or indirect human intervention.

Titled “Exploring the Nanoworld of Biogenic Gems,” the project will aim to improve the process of testing and identifying pearls by identifying morphological, micro-structural, optical, and chemical features sufficient to distinguish a pearl’s area of origin, method of growth, or both.

MIT.nano, MIT’s open-access center for nanoscience and nanoengineering, will be the organizational home for the project, where Mas?ic´ and his team will utilize the facility’s state-of- the-art characterization tools.

In addition to discovering new methodologies for establishing a pearl’s origin, the project aims to utilize machine learning (ML) to automate pearl classification. Furthermore, researchers will investigate techniques to create a unique identifier associated with an individual pearl.

The initial sponsored research project is expected to last three years, with potential for continued collaboration based on key findings or building upon the project’s success to open new avenues for research into the structure, properties, and growth of pearls.

Source: Bahrain News Agency