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Nanoporous Silica of Some Egyptian Diatom Frustules as a Promising Natural Material

[ Vol. 9 , Issue. 3 ]


Atef M. Abo-Shady, Abdelfattah A. Zalat, Emad A. Al-Ashkar and Mohamed M. Ghobara*   Pages 414 - 425 ( 12 )


Background: Diatoms are a large unique group of unicellular microalgae with a significant ornamented cell wall made of hydrated silica, which is called "frustule". Their ornamented siliceous shells are usually composed of multi-layer structures with multi-scale porosity, which can be used as a promising source to obtain hierarchical macro and mesoporous silica microparticles. The present study is one step forward through a long road seeking for green nanofabrication techniques of such porous materials that will be economically more efficient with large design flexibility.

Materials and Methods: For seeking different porosity scales, architectures, and distribution patterns, a total of 237 diatom species and varieties belonging to 68 genera were identified from 59 samples, which were collected from different Egyptian habitats and environments. Of these eight species were selected to study their frustules' ultra-structures in details, including; Aulacoseira granulata (Ehrenberg) Simonsen, Actinocyclus octonarius Ehrenberg, Cyclotella meneghiniana Kützing, Pleurosira laevis (Ehrenberg) Compére, Synedra ulna (Nitzsch) Ehrenberg, Achnanthes brevipes Agardh, Nitzschia amphibia Grunow and Nitzschia palea (Kützing) W. Smith. Nitzschia palea (Kützing) W. Smith was also isolated and cultivated.

Results: The ultrastructure and porosity of all studied species had been revealed. The porosity scale was ranged from 5 to 500 nm in diameter.

Conclusion: The obtained results showed the potential of diatom frustules in nanotechnology as a source of natural silica microparticles with macro and mesoporous structures could be of a large interest for applications including ultra, micro and nanofiltration, drug delivery systems, optoelectronics, or other novel nanotechnology applications.


Diatom ultrastructure, diatom nanotechnology, mesoporosity, macroporosity, biogenic silica, drug delivery system.


Botany Department, Faculty of Science, Tanta University, 31527 Tanta, Geology Department, Faculty of Science, Tanta University, 31527 Tanta, Spectroscopy Division, Physics Department, National Research Center, Cairo, Botany Department, Faculty of Science, Tanta University, 31527 Tanta

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