Nanotechnology has become central to our research efforts to fabricate relatively smaller size devices, which are more versatile than their older and larger predecessors. Silica is a very important material in this regard. Recently, a new biomimetically inspired path to silica production has been demonstrated. This processing technique was inspired from biological organisms, such as marine diatoms, which produce silica at ambient conditions and almost neutral ph with beautiful control over location and structure. Recently, several researchers have demonstrated that positional control of silica formed could be achieved by application of an electric field to locate charged enzymes responsible for the bio catalytic condensation of silica from solution.
Secondly, chemical and physical controls of silica structural morphology were achievable. Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) and Ultrasonic Force Microscopy (UFM) techniques are employed for the first time to provide both substantially improved resolution of the morphology and relative measurement of the modulus of elasticity of the structures. In particular, these measurements reveal the positive impact of a shear flow field present during the silica formation on both the "ordering" of the structure and the mechanical properties.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/kevin-hallinan/49/