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J Nanosci Nanotechnol. 2005 Jan;5(1):35-40.

Potential roles for diatomists in nanotechnology.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, University of Manitoba, Health Sciences Centre, GA216, 820 Sherbrook Street, Winnipeg, MB R3A 1R9, Canada.


Diatoms produce diverse three-dimensional structures that, due to their exponential rate of growth, may be of use in the manufacture of components for nanotechnology as an alternative to present linear lithographic techniques. Vapor replacement of the silicon permits the conversion of diatom silica valves and other structures to metal/ceramics, with no loss of structure. The literature on diatom nanotechnology is reviewed, along with suggestions on how diatomists might enhance this emerging technology. There is a need for a systematics based catalog of parts (via genomics technologies), improved diatom culture techniques, better understanding of the mechanisms of diatom morphogenesis and motility, and genetic manipulation, mutagenesis, and selection, as via the chemostat-like compustat. Given the self-motility of raphid diatoms, they could form the basis for industrially useful nanobots.

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