Diatoms are an extremely diverse group of unicellular algae that self-assemble a porous, intricate siliceous cell wall, called frustule. Such frustules possess a unique combination of physical and chemical properties (chemical inertness, high mechanical strength, large surface area, low density, good porosity and highly ordered features on nano to micro scale).
Currently, we are working with the salt water algae Pinnularia sp. and the acidophilic algae Eunotia sp., which are known to bio-accumulate trace levels of titanium into their biosilica frustules. By metabolically incorporating titanium dioxide in the porous structure of the frustules, a sustainable, well immobilized biosilica-titania material with superior photocatalytic properties can be obtained.
Next to this, diatoms are researched as a feed source in aquaculture (Microbial technology).