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Controlled Silica Synthesis Inspired by Diatom Silicon Biomineralization

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Silica becomes increasingly used in chemical, pharmaceutical, and (nano)technological processes, resulting in an increased demand for well-defined silicas and silica-based materials. The production of highly structured silica from cheap starting materials and under ambient conditions, which is a target for many researchers, is already realized in the formation of diatom biosilica, producing highly hierarchical ordered meso- and macropores silica structures. This notion formed the starting point in our integrative biomolecular and biomimetic study on diatom silicon biomineralization in which we have analyzed silica transformations and structure-direction in polymer-mediated silica syntheses using a combination of (ultra)small-angle X-ray scattering and (cryo)electron microscopy. Using bio-analogous reaction conditions and reagents, such as waterglass and (combinations of) polyethylene oxide (PEO) based polymers, we demonstrate in this review the synthesis of tailor- made mesoporous silicas in which we can, as in biosilica synthesis, control the morphological features of the resulting materials on the nanometer level as well as on the micrometer level.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2005

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  • Journal for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (JNN) is an international and multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal with a wide-ranging coverage, consolidating research activities in all areas of nanoscience and nanotechnology into a single and unique reference source. JNN is the first cross-disciplinary journal to publish original full research articles, rapid communications of important new scientific and technological findings, timely state-of-the-art reviews with author's photo and short biography, and current research news encompassing the fundamental and applied research in all disciplines of science, engineering and medicine.
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