Complex-shaped microbial biominerals for nanotechnology

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleContributedpeer-review



Single-celled microorganisms such as diatoms and coccolithophores produce inorganic microparticles with genetically controlled hierarchical nanopatterns. Besides serving as paradigms to inspire new routes for materials synthesis, biominerals themselves, particularly diatom biosilica, are increasingly utilized as templates for the synthesis of novel functional materials. Over the past decade, a large variety of methods have been established that allow not only for the attachment or coating of desired materials onto diatom biosilica but also for complete chemical conversion without altering the characteristic micro- and nanoscale morphology. Examples include the synthesis of materials for photonics (surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy, SERS, extraordinary optical transmission, EOT), ultraresponsive and sensitive gas sensors, gas storage materials, and highly active catalysts. More recently, emerging insight into the cellular mechanisms of biosilica formation has enabled the in vivo functionalization of diatom biosilica through advanced cultivation techniques and genetic engineering. As a naturally renewable material, biominerals hold the promise of serving as an inexpensive and easily available resource for a future nanotechnology-based industry.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-27
Number of pages13
Journal Wiley interdisciplinary reviews: Nanomedicine and Nanobiotechnology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2014

External IDs

PubMed 25154474
Scopus 84907867327


Sustainable Development Goals


  • Biotechnology, Diatoms, Nanostructures, Nanotechnology, Silicon Dioxide