Diatom Nanotechnology

From Open Source Ecology
Jump to: navigation, search
Silica skeletons of radiolaria in false color.

The deposition of silica by diatoms may also prove to be of utility to nanotechnology. Diatom cells repeatedly and reliably manufacture valves of various shapes and sizes, potentially allowing diatoms to manufacture micro- or nano-scale structures which may be of use in a range of devices, including: optical systems; semiconductor nanolithography; and even vehicles for drug delivery. With an appropriate artificial selection procedure, diatoms that produce valves of particular shapes and sizes might be evolved for cultivation in chemostat cultures to mass-produce nanoscale components. It has also been proposed that diatoms could be used as a component of solar cells by substituting photosensitive titanium dioxide for the silicon dioxide that diatoms normally use to create their cell walls. Diatom biofuel producing solar panels have also been proposed.

Possible Applications

  • Diatom biophotonics
  • Microfluidics within diatoms
  • biosensing
  • for drug delivery
  • molecular separation / filtration
  • electronics / computing with diatoms


  • Cheap and abundant
  • Can be easily grown artificially
  • Can be extracted easily through simple separation processes