Conversion of 3-D nanostructured biosilica templates into non-oxide replicas
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Diatoms possess characteristics such as abundance, diversity, and high reproductivity, which make their nano-structured frustules (diatom frustules) attractive for a wide range of applications. To overcome the limitation of their silica based frustule composition, diatom frustules have been converted into a variety of materials including silicon, silicon carbide, silver, gold, palladium and carbon in the present study. The compositions and the extent of shape preservation of the replicas are examined and evaluated with different characterization methods such as X-ray diffraction, SEM, TEM and FTIR analyses. These replicas still retained the complex 3D structures and nano-scaled features of the starting diatom frustules. Some properties and possible applications of converted materials are explored and the kinetics and thermodynamics related to the successful replications (conversions) are also studied and discussed.