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Synthesis and nanotechnologial application of tethered silicates (SANTS) - Publishable Executive Summary

Project ID: 33254
Funded under: FP6-NMP


The SANTS project, which stands for Synthesis and Application of Nanostructured Tethered Silicates, is designed to improve knowledge in nanoscale manufacturing and create new molecular materials for both biosensors and biocatalysed synthetic chemistry via the use of techniques inspired by natural biosilication processes. The project is based on the observation that diatoms, which are small unicellular algae, possess internal silica skeletons that are laid down due to the silica precipitating activity of specialised proteins called silaffins. These proteins have a highly repeating structure in which the repeated sequences are decorated with additional amine and phosphate groups. Whilst silaffins themselves are potent silica precipitants, synthetic peptides corresponding to these repeats will also act as silicating agents and will allow silica nanoparticles to be generated, provided phosphate is also supplied. Moreover, several polyamines, which can be viewed as peptide mimetics also act as silica precipitants. The biotechnological facility of these observations is that the biosilicates can entrap and immobilise a wide range of enzymes with dramatically higher efficiency than conventional immobilisation procedures, and that biosilica entrapment also serves to stabilise and protect the entrapped enzymes.

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