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May 30th, 2007
Scientists from France have stumbled upon an interesting, almost spontaneous process to create silica nanotubes.
From the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique announcement:
The vertebral skeleton is probably the most remarkable example of the efficiency of living organisms in forming robust structures which closely combine organic and mineral materials, in this case calcium phosphate. However, in the submarine environment, numerous and frequently single-cell organisms can achieve similar exploits by using silica to produce carapaces and spines to protect themselves, or spicules that are fibers which direct light to their neurons as effectively as the best optical fibers. With a complex architecture and shape, these natural structures are even more astonishing in that they develop spontaneously in water under moderate conditions of temperature and pressure, according to mechanisms which are still largely unknown. This feat is a dream for chemists who are often obliged to heat, extrude or compress materials under aggressive conditions in order to endow them with a shape.
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