Porous silicon (PSi) is by far a very useful technological platform for optical monitoring of chemical and biological substances and due to its peculiar physical and morphological properties it is worldwide used in sensing experiments. On the other hand, we have discovered a natural material, the micro-shells of marine diatoms, ubiquitous unicellular algae, which are made of hydrated amorphous silica, but, most of all, show geometrical structures made of complex patterns of pores which are surprisingly similar to those of porous silicon. Moreover, under laser irradiation, this material is photoluminescent and the photoluminescence is very sensitive to the surrounding atmosphere, which means that the material can act as a transducer. Starting from our experience on PSi devices, we explore the optical and photonic properties of marine diatoms micro-shells in a sort of inverse biomimicry.
International Society for Optics and Photonics
3 May 2011
Volume: 8068 Pages: 80680D
Bioelectronics, Biomedical, and Bioinspired Systems V; and Nanotechnology V