Research Summary: Cationic Amino Acids Specific Biomimetic Silicification in Ionic Liquid: A Quest to Understand the Formation of 3-D Structures in Diatoms

ABSTRACT

The intricate, hierarchical, highly reproducible, and exquisite biosilica structures formed by diatoms have generated great interest to understand biosilicification processes in nature. This curiosity is driven by the quest of researchers to understand nature’s complexity, which might enable reproducing these elegant natural diatomaceous structures in our laboratories via biomimetics, which is currently beyond the capabilities of material scientists. To this end, significant understanding of the biomolecules involved in biosilicification has been gained, wherein cationic peptides and proteins are found to play a key role in the formation of these exquisite structures. Although biochemical factors responsible for silica formation in diatoms have been studied for decades, the challenge to mimic biosilica structures similar to those synthesized by diatoms in their natural habitats has not hitherto been successful. This has led to an increasingly interesting debate that physico-chemical environment surrounding diatoms might play an additional critical role towards the control of diatom morphologies. The current study demonstrates this proof of concept by using cationic amino acids as catalyst/template/scaffold towards attaining diatom-like silica morphologies under biomimetic conditions in ionic liquids.

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Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 3-March-2011

Author(s): Ramanathan R., Campbell J., Soni S., Bhargava S., Bansal V.

Link: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0017707

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