In view of the importance of the hydroxyapatite/collagen composite of both natural bone tissue and in synthetic biomaterials, we have investigated the interaction of three constituent amino acids of the collagen matrix with two major hydroxyapatite surfaces. We have employed electronic structure techniques based on the density functional theory to study a range of different binding modes of the amino acids glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline at the hydroxyapatite (0001) and (0110) surfaces. We have performed full geometry optimizations of the hydroxyapatite surfaces with adsorbed amino acid molecules to obtain the optimum substrate/adsorbate structures and interaction energies. The calculations show that the amino acids are capable of forming multiple interactions with surface species, particularly if they can bridge between two surface calcium ions. The binding energies range from 290 kJ mol(-1) for glycine on the (0001) surface to 610 kJ mol(-1) for hydroxyproline on the (0110) surface. The large adsorption energies are due to a wide range of interactions between the adsorbate and surface, including proton transfer from the adsorbates to surface OH or PO(4) groups. Hydroxyproline binds most strongly to the surfaces, but all three amino acids should be good sites for the nucleation and growth of the hydroxyapatite (0110) surface at the collagen matrix.
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