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Langmuir. 2007 Apr 24;23(9):5014-21. Epub 2007 Mar 31.

AFM nanoindentations of diatom biosilica surfaces.

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  • 1School of Chemistry, Physics, and Earth Sciences, and School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University, Bedford Park 5042, Australia.


Diatoms have intricately and uniquely nanopatterned silica exoskeletons (frustules) and are a common target of biomimetic investigations. A better understanding of the diatom frustule structure and function at the nanoscale could provide new insights for the biomimetic fabrication of nanostructured ceramic materials and lightweight, yet strong, scaffold architectures. Here, we have mapped the nanoscale mechanical properties of Coscinodiscus sp. diatoms using atomic force microscopy (AFM)-based nanoindentation. Mechanical properties were correlated with the frustule structures obtained from high-resolution AFM and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Significant differences in the micromechanical properties for the different frustule layers were observed. A comparative study of other related inorganic material including porous silicon films and free-standing membranes as well as porous alumina was also undertaken.

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