Diatoms are single-celled organisms with rigid parts in relative motion at the micrometrescale and below. These biogenic hydrated silica structures have elaborate shapes, interlocking devices, and, in some cases, hinged structures. The silica shells of the diatoms experience various forces from the environment and also from the cell itself when it grows and divides, and the form of these micromechanical parts has been evolutionarily optimized during the last 150 million years or more, achieving mechanical stability. Linking structures of several diatom species such as Aulacoseira, Corethron, and Ellerbeckia are presented in high-resolution SEM images and their structure and presumed functions are correlated. Currently, the industry for micro- and nanoelectromechanical devices (MEMS and NEMS) puts great effort into investigating tribology on the micro- and nanometre scale. It is suggested that micro- and nanotribologists meet with diatomists to discuss future common research attempts regarding biomimetic ideas and approaches for novel and/or improved MEMS and NEMS with optimized tribological properties.
Helmholtz Research Programs > MARCOPOLI (2004-2008) > POL5-Autecology of planktonic key species and groups