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SANTS - Synthesis and Application of Nanostructured Tethered Silicates
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.