Biologists, and diatomists in particular, have long studied the properties of single-cell algae called diatoms, and engineers are just discovering how to exploit features unique to these organisms. Their uniform nanopore structure, microchannels, chemical inertness, and silica microcrystal structure suggest many nanoscale applications. This paper suggests three potential research initiatives that take advantage of diatoms morphology and mechanical and chemical properties: (1) embedding diatoms frustules in a metal-film membrane; (2) magnetizing frustules for directed movement within the human body; and (3) preparing silica nanopowders from frustules. Each initiatives potential benefits and technical challenges are outlined by the authors.
Helmholtz Research Programs > MARCOPOLI (2004-2008) > POL5-Autecology of planktonic key species and groups