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University of Bristol Researcher Discovers Silica Producing Ability of Algae Cells

Dr. Paul Curnow from the University of Bristol has been awarded with $1.3 million to study the silica producing ability of algae cells. Silica is the primary component of glass.

The image shows part of a group of diatoms viewed with a light microscope using Jamin-Lebedeff Polarising Interference. 160:1 on 35 mm slide. 

The research findings are bound to influence the development of advanced medical imaging tools. Curnow’s research was inspired by diatoms, a kind of algae also known as Nature’s nanotechnologist.

Paul Curnow has been awarded funding from European Research Council (ERC) for conducting his research. His work is focussed on understanding how diatom cells control silica while coating themselves externally with a layer of clear glass. Dr. Curnow is currently working on diatom proteins, which are capable of recognising and transporting soluble silica. With the financial aid from ERC Curnow will be able to use the diatom proteins for creating synthetic diatom, which can be considered as a nanoreactor that is used for the controlled synthesis of functional silicon nanomaterials. Curnow explained that they have so far been successful in devising a way to control silica at the nanoscale level and added that by unveiling the secrets of these cells, will help in making diagnostic devices, sensors, medical imaging tools etc. Studying materials at the nanoscale level reveals that some of their exclusive properties can be tapped to make commercial profits.

Source: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/

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