Navigation Links
Marine sponge yields nanoscale secrets

The simple marine sponge is inspiring cutting-edge research in the design of new materials at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

A report about these exciting new results involving the use of gold nanoparticles is the cover story of the current issue of the scientific journal, Advanced Materials. The article is written by Daniel E. Morse, professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at UCSB, and director of the Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies, and his research group. The authors include postdoctoral fellow, David Kisailus (first author), and graduate students Mark Najarian and James C. Weaver.

The simple sponge fits into the palm of your hand, and proliferates in the ocean next to the UCSB campus, said Morse. "When you remove the tissue you're left with a handful of fiberglass needles as fine as spun glass or cotton. This primitive skeleton supports the structure of the sponge, and we've discovered how this glass is made biologically."

The newly reported research describes an important step forward in translating nature's production methods in the biological world into practical methods for the development of new materials in the laboratory.

The research team developed a method for coupling small, inexpensive synthetic molecules (that duplicate those found at the active center of the bio-catalyst of the marine sponge) onto the surfaces of gold nanoparticles. They showed that when two populations of these chemically modified nanoparticles, each bearing half of the catalytic site, are brought together, they function just as the natural biological catalyst does to make silica at low temperatures.

The UCSB scientists are already taking the next steps toward the development of practical new and useful methods of nanoscale production by incorporating catalytic components on the flat surfaces of silicon wafers, using these techniques to create nanoscale patterns of their catalyst. They are learning how to write nanoscale features of semi-conductors on these chip surfaces.

A few years ago, Morse and his research group began investigating how nature builds materials from silicon. Silicon is particularly interesting to Morse, because it is considered by many to be the most important element on the planet technologically. Silicon chips are fundamental components of computers and telecommunications devices. In combination with oxygen, silicon forms fiber optics and drives other high-tech applications.

Morse explained that his research group discovered that the center of the sponge's fine glass needles contains a filament of protein that controls the synthesis of the needles. By cloning and sequencing the DNA of the gene that codes for this protein, they found that the protein is an enzyme that acts as a catalyst –?a surprising discovery. Never before had a protein been found to serve as a catalyst to promote chemical reactions to form the glass or a rock-like material of a biomineral. From that discovery, the researchers learned that this enzyme actively promotes the formation of the glass while simultaneously serving as a template to guide the shape of the growing mineral (glass) that it produces.

These discoveries are significant because they represent a low temperature, biotechnological, catalytic route to the nanostructural fabrication of valuable materials. Nature produces silica on a scale of gigatons –?thousands of millions of tons –?thousands-fold more than man can produce, said Morse. "This biosynthesis is remarkable because this nanoscale precision can't be duplicated by man."

Besides this remarkable precision, nature manages to produce silica at a low temperature, in an environmentally friendly way without the use of caustic chemicals, whereas man must use very high temperatures, high vacuums, and dangerous chemicals requiring costly remediation.

Although the reported research marks an important step forward, Morse believes that the use of these biological methods to control such syntheses would be impractical on an industrial scale. The high cost of the purification of these proteins, the requirement of the proteins for a watery environment, and their instability, all make their incorporation into electronic devices impractical. Furthermore, the presence of proteins would be incompatible with the high electronic performance required for today's device applications.

Instead, the scientists expect that by learning the fundamental mechanism used in nature, that mechanism could be translated into a practical and low-cost manufacturing method. Such a "biomimetic" approach will eventually be used in industry, said Morse.


'"/>

Source:University of California - Santa Barbara


Related biology news :

1. Census of Marine Life explorers surprised by diversity, density of Arctic creatures
2. Marine bacterium suspected to play role in global carbon and nitrogen cycles
3. Marine conservation organizations team up to conduct Indonesia coral reefs assessment
4. Marine mammals are on the frontline of failing ocean health
5. Marine dead zone off Oregon is spreading
6. Simple sea sponge helps scientists understand tissue rejection
7. Hidden sponges determine coral reefs nutrient cycle
8. Genome-wide mouse study yields link to human leukemia
9. Small worm yields big clue on muscle receptor action
10. Organic farms produce same yields as conventional farms
11. GM crop that holds on to its seeds offers higher yields
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:11/13/2018)... ... November 13, 2018 , ... ... instrumentation with capability to resolve complex sample matrix and to allow identification ... chromatograph (HRAM LC/MS) have been used extensively for structural elucidation of unknown ...
(Date:11/13/2018)... N.C. (PRWEB) , ... November ... ... Research Triangle Park-based management consulting firm specializing in the life sciences, healthcare, ... area lead for Cybersecurity and Compliance. Summerville will be responsible for overseeing ...
(Date:11/13/2018)... ... November 13, 2018 , ... ... site service companies in North America, announces a new partnership with EmergeOrtho, ... leading provider of innovative, quality, comprehensive musculoskeletal care. This new joint venture ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/3/2018)... FALLS CHURCH, Va. (PRWEB) , ... November 01, ... ... for the first-ever Metrics Champion Consortium Summit. Dr. Jean Mulinde, Senior Advisor, Division ... assess and manage risk, monitor safety and ensure data reliability. , What should ...
(Date:10/31/2018)... ... October 30, 2018 , ... Rooam , the premier payment platform ... this winter. After its acquisition of the Tally payment app, the leading payment platform ... tips, Rooam will grow its market share and increase the number of restaurant and ...
(Date:10/31/2018)... ... ... Pippa Rose is a young Labrador retriever. Like most labs, Pippa is energetic, crazy, ... to the cruciate ligament in her right knee. According to her mom, Kinsley, Pippa ... that it broke her heart to see Pippa lie around in pain because it hurt ...
(Date:10/31/2018)... ... ... Today, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) announced the launch of the ... new and innovative uses of field corn. NineSigma is serving as the facilitator of ... and are on pace to produce the second largest crop ever. One of NCGA’s ...
Breaking Biology Technology: