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Sponge spicules and nanotechnology

 
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piotr



Joined: 28 Apr 2004
Posts: 445
Location: San Diego

PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 11:16 pm    Post subject: Sponge spicules and nanotechnology Reply with quote

Today I attended a meeting dedicated to nanobiology (another recent buzzword). One of the speakers, prof. Daniel Morse from UC Santa Barbara, talked about synthesis of nanostructures using silicatein. Silicatein is an enzyme extracted from marine glass sponges, that catalyzes synthesis of silica. Sponges use it to build their glass skeleton. Synthesis of glass occurs at low temperature and at neutral pH - not an easy task for human engineer! But, in experiments, metaloorganic compounds are used as silicatein substrates. Thus, it is possible to create complex patterned nanostructures. Can you imagine? Perhaps soon we will employ internal mechanisms of sponges or radiolarians to create structures that are not only beautiful, but also useful. Catalysts, sensors, microelectronics. What a wicked idea - but very cool!

Pictured are sponge spicules found in a sample of radiolarian ooze:



10x objective, darkfield
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Frez



Joined: 08 May 2004
Posts: 419
Location: New Hampshire USA

PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2006 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Piotr

That's very interesting! You must've had a good time. Do you think the next step is to also synthesize the organic structure that controls the system? Did they cover how these micro structures would perform their tasks? Also, did you collect the Radiolarian sample yourself? I'm thinking about ordering a sample from Ward's Scientific.
http://www.wardsci.com/product.asp?pn=IG0002734

Thanks
Frez
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piotr



Joined: 28 Apr 2004
Posts: 445
Location: San Diego

PostPosted: Fri Apr 28, 2006 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sorry, Frez, for my late answer.

The Ward Science sample is very nice and I have it, too. This particular slide comes from a small set of Pacific Ocean radiolaria slides that I borrowed from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. I contacted them some time ago and they were very friendly.

The organic structures are already there! The 3D structure of the protein is known and it is extremely interesting to make modifications in the protein in order to change properties of the product compounds. But, in fact, industry doesn't like organic structures when it comes to 'pure' applications, such as microelectronics. So they are trying to learn from nautre and re-create the protein mechanisms with inorganic compounds and nanotechnology... very cool.
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piotr



Joined: 28 Apr 2004
Posts: 445
Location: San Diego

PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2006 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am very happy to have my picture selected for the front page!!! Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

Thank you, Ken, all the team and members for this amazing forum!
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piotr



Joined: 28 Apr 2004
Posts: 445
Location: San Diego

PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have received the bag and it is GREAT! Smile Smile Smile
Thank you very much!
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