Biosilicification takes place at or very close pH 7.0 and under ambient conditions of temperature and pressure in vivo. The silicic acid transporters and the proteins facilitating biosilicification in diatoms have been identified. Silica synthesis under mild conditions in vitro has been demonstrated using synthetic polymers with control over the resulting silica morphology. The results presented herein show that the silica synthesis in vitro is not specific to particular enzymes/polypeptides due to their particular chemical structure and activity but that many other synthetic macromolecules are also capable of facilitating silica formation at neutral pH. We also report the synthesis of organic-inorganic hybrid materials that have potential in optoelectronic applications.
- silica morphology