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posted 12. October 2004 10:56
PLoS Biology Volume 2 | Issue 10 | October 2004
Nature's Nanotechnologists: Unveiling the Secrets of Diatoms
Abbreviation: JGI, Joint Genome Initiative
Jane Bradbury is a freelance science news writer based in Cambridge, United Kingdom. E-mail: email@example.com
Published October 12, 2004
Copyright: © 2004 Jane Bradbury. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Citation: Bradbury J (2004) Nature's Nanotechnologists: Unveiling the Secrets of Diatoms. PLoS Biol 2(10): e306.
Diatoms, unicellular algae with ornate silica shells, have fascinated amateur and professional biologists ever since the invention of the microscope. But these days, diatoms and their exquisite shells are also attracting the attention of nanotechnologists who hope that diatoms will teach them how to make minute structures currently beyond the capabilities of materials scientists. And now these nanotechnologists, together with ecologists interested in the global carbon cycle—in which diatoms play a central role—have a genomic blueprint to help them in their studies: the annotated genome sequence of Thalassiosira pseudonana (http://genome.jgi-psf.org/diatom/).
Such tedious techniques are currently used in the semiconductor industry. At present, explains Michael Sussman, Director of the Biotechnology Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Madison, Wisconsin, United States), ‘features are etched onto circuit boards using light. However, the wavelength of light limits the smallest size that can be achieved, and for the next generation of faster computers, engineers need to get denser features onto computer chips than is possible with light etching’. Diatoms, says Sussman, ‘are natural-born lithographers in the nanometre range. If we could work out how diatoms lay down micro lines of silica, then we may be able to simulate it’. The proteins that diatoms use to direct silica deposition could be very useful to the semiconductor industry, says Sussman.
See Full Text at PLoS Biology
[ 03. December 2004, 22:03: Message edited by: ISCID News Editor ]