Electronically transparent graphene replicas of diatoms: a new technique for the investigation of frustule morphology

TitleElectronically transparent graphene replicas of diatoms: a new technique for the investigation of frustule morphology
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsPan Z.W, Lerch S.JL, Xu L, Li X.F, Chuang Y.J, Howe J.Y, Mahurin S.M, Dai S., Hildebrand M
JournalScientific Reports
Volume4
Date Published2014/08
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number2045-2322
Accession NumberWOS:000340712600004
Keywordscarbon nanotubes; films; high-quality; silicon
Abstract

The morphogenesis of the silica cell walls (called frustules) of unicellular algae known as diatoms is one of the most intriguing mysteries of the diatoms. To study frustule morphogenesis, optical, electron and atomic force microscopy has been extensively used to reveal the frustule morphology. However, since silica frustules are opaque, past observations were limited to outer and fracture surfaces, restricting observations of interior structures. Here we show that opaque silica frustules can be converted into electronically transparent graphene replicas, fabricated using chemical vapor deposition of methane. Chemical vapor deposition creates a continuous graphene coating preserving the frustule's shape and fine, complicated internal features. Subsequent dissolution of the silica with hydrofluoric acid yields a free-standing replica of the internal and external native frustule morphologies. Electron microscopy renders these graphene replicas highly transparent, revealing previously unobserved, complex, three-dimensional, interior frustule structures, which lend new insights into the investigation of frustule morphogenesis.

DOI10.1038/srep06117
Short TitleSci Rep
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