[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Organisms of the phylum Porifera, that is, sponges, utilize enzymatic hydrolysis to concatenate bioavailable inorganic silicon to produce lightweight, strong, and often flexible skeletal elements called spicules. In their optical transparency, these remarkable biomaterials resemble fused silica, despite having been formed under ambient marine biological conditions. Although previous studies have elucidated the chemical mechanisms of spicule formation and revealed the extensive hydration of these glasses, their precise composition and local and medium-range structures had not been determined. We have employed a combination of compositional analysis, 1H and 29Si solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and synchrotron X-ray total scattering to characterize spicule-derived silica produced by the demosponge Tethya aurantia. These studies indicate that the materials are highly hydrated, but in an inhomogeneous manner. The spicule-derived silica is, on average, perfectly dense for the given extent of hydration and regions of fully condensed and unstrained SiO networks persist throughout each monolithic spicule. To accommodate chemical strain and defects, the extensive hydration is concentrated in distinct regions that give rise to mesostructural features. The chemistry responsible for producing spicule silica resembles hydrolytic sol-gel processing, which offers exceptional control over the precise local atomic arrangement of materials. However, the specific processing involved in forming the sponge spicule silica further results in regions of fully condensed silica coexisting with regions of incomplete condensation. This mesostructure suggests a mechanism for atomistic defect tolerance and strain relief that may account for the unusual mechanical properties of the biogenic spicules.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A high-rate, continuous synthesis of functional nanomaterials using a home engineered reactor is reported. The reactor is able to produce low-cost, kilogram-scale BaTiO3 nanopowders with a nanocrystalline particle size less than 30 nm at mild temperatures (<100 °C) and ambient pressure. Nebulization and collision of warm microdroplets (60–80 °C) of Ba(OH)2 and Ti(O-nBu)4 very quickly result in total hydrolysis and subsequent conversion to BaTiO3, yielding 1.3 kg/day of high purity, highly crystalline nanoparticles (25–30 nm). This synthesis procedure also enables high-rate production of TiO2 anatase (2.9 kg/day). It therefore provides a general platform for processing and scaling up of functional inorganic nanomaterials under very mild conditions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Loliginid squid dynamically tune the structural iridescence of cells in their skin for active camouflage and communication. Bragg reflectors in these cells consist of membrane-bound lamellae periodically alternating with low refractive index extracellular spaces; neuronal signalling induces condensation of the reflectin proteins that fill the lamellae, consequently triggering the expulsion of water. This causes an increase in refractive index within the lamellae, activating reflectance, with the change in lamellar thickness and spacing progressively shifting the wavelength of reflected light. We used micro-spectrophotometry to measure the functionally relevant refractive index of the high-index lamellae of the Bragg reflectors containing the condensed reflectins in chemically fixed dermal iridocytes of the squid, Doryteuthis opalescens. Our high-magnification imaging spectrometer allowed us to obtain normalized spectra of optically distinct sections of the individual, subcellular, multi-layer Bragg stacks. Replacement of the extracellular fluid with liquids of increasing refractive index allowed us to measure the reflectivity of the Bragg stacks as it decreased progressively to 0 when the refractive index of the extracellular medium exactly matched that of the reflectin-filled lamellae, thus allowing us to directly measure the refractive index of the reflectin-filled lamellae as ncondensed lamellae ≈ 1.44. The measured value of the physiologically relevant ncondensed lamellae from these bright iridocytes falls within the range of values that we recently determined by an independent optical method and is significantly lower than values previously reported for dehydrated and air-dried reflectin films. We propose that this directly measured value for the refractive index of the squid's Bragg lamellae containing the condensed reflectins is most appropriate for calculations of reflectivity in similar reflectin-based high-index layers in other molluscs.
Journal of The Royal Society Interface 01/2014; 11(95):20140106. · 4.91 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: DNA-based information systems drive the combinatorial optimization processes of natural evolution, including the evolution of biominerals. Advances in high-throughput DNA sequencing expand the power of DNA as a potential information platform for combinatorial engineering, but many applications remain to be developed due in part to the challenge of handling large amounts of sequence data. Here we employ high-throughput sequencing and a recently developed clustering method (AutoSOME) to identify single-stranded DNA sequence families that bind specifically to ZnO semiconductor mineral surfaces. These sequences were enriched from a diverse DNA library after a single round of screening, whereas previous screening approaches typically require 5-15 rounds of enrichment for effective sequence identification. The consensus sequence of the largest cluster was poly-d(T)30. This consensus sequence exhibited clear aptamer behavior and was shown to promote the synthesis of crystalline ZnO from aqueous solution at near-neutral pH. This activity is significant, as the crystalline form of this wide-bandgap semiconductor is not typically amenable to solution synthesis in this pH range. High-resolution TEM revealed that this DNA synthesis route yields ZnO nanoparticles with an amorphous-crystalline core-shell structure, suggesting that the mechanism of mineralization involves nanoscale coacervation around the DNA template. We thus demonstrate that our new method, termed Single round Enrichment of Ligands by deep Sequencing (SEL-Seq), can facilitate biomimetic synthesis of technological nanomaterials by accelerating combinatorial selection of biomolecular-mineral interactions. Moreover, by enabling direct characterization of sequence family demographics, we anticipate that SEL-Seq will enhance aptamer discovery in applications employing additional rounds of screening.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Loliginid squid use tunable multilayer reflectors to modulate the optical properties of their skin for camouflage and communication. Contained inside specialized cells called iridocytes, these photonic structures have been a model for investigations into bio-inspired adaptive optics. Here, we describe two distinct sexually dimorphic tunable biophotonic features in the commercially important species Doryteuthis opalescens: bright stripes of rainbow iridescence on the mantle just beneath each fin attachment and a bright white stripe centered on the dorsal surface of the mantle between the fins. Both of these cellular features are unique to the female; positioned in the same location as the conspicuously bright white testis in the male, they are completely switchable, transitioning between transparency and high reflectivity. The sexual dimorphism, location and tunability of these features suggest that they may function in mating or reproduction. These features provide advantageous new models for investigation of adaptive biophotonics. The intensely reflective cells of the iridescent stripes provide a greater signal-to-noise ratio than the adaptive iridocytes studied thus far, while the cells constituting the white stripe are adaptive leucophores - unique biological tunable broadband scatterers containing Mie-scattering organelles activated by acetylcholine, and a unique complement of reflectin proteins.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Detailed examinations of an algal-microherbivore symbiosis have revealed mutualistic components of such herbivore-plant interactions. High-resolution photomicroscopy and experimental analyses in the field and laboratory were used to evaluate effects of foraging by Haliotis rufescens (red abalone) postlarvae ˜ 200 μm in length, on their encrusting red algal hosts, Lithothamnion (=Lithothamnium) californicum, Lithophyllum lichenare, and Hildenbrandia rubra (=H. prototypus). We have quantified the microscopic food availability, postlarval foraging behaviour, changes in stomach and faecal contents, growth, and mutualistic effects of grazing. Host algae were found to benefit both from a reduction in coverage by epiphytic algae, and from enhancement of vegetative growth.
Molluscan Research 06/2013; 18(2):183-196. · 0.62 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Squids have used their tunable iridescence for camouflage and communication for millions of years; materials scientists have more recently looked to them for inspiration to develop new "biologically inspired" adaptive optics. Iridocyte cells produce iridescence through constructive interference of light with intracellular Bragg reflectors. The cell's dynamic control over the apparent lattice constant and dielectric contrast of these multilayer stacks yields the corresponding optical control of brightness and color across the visible spectrum. Here, we resolve remaining uncertainties in iridocyte cell structure and determine how this unusual morphology enables the cell's tunable reflectance. We show that the plasma membrane periodically invaginates deep into the iridocyte to form a potential Bragg reflector consisting of an array of narrow, parallel channels that segregate the resulting high refractive index, cytoplasmic protein-containing lamellae from the low-index channels that are continuous with the extracellular space. In response to control by a neurotransmitter, the iridocytes reversibly imbibe or expel water commensurate with changes in reflection intensity and wavelength. These results allow us to propose a comprehensive mechanism of adaptive iridescence in these cells from stimulation to color production. Applications of these findings may contribute to the development of unique classes of tunable photonic materials.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 01/2013; · 9.74 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cephalopods (e.g. octopus, squid and cuttlefish) dynamically tune the colour and brightness of their skin for camouflage and communication using specialized skin cells called iridocytes. We use high-resolution microspectrophotometry to investigate individual tunable Bragg structures (consisting of alternating reflectin protein-containing, high-refractive index lamellae and low-refractive index inter-lamellar spaces) in live and chemically fixed iridocytes of the California market squid, Doryteuthis opalescens. This subcellular, single-stack microspectrophotometry allows for spectral normalization, permitting use of a transfer-matrix model of Bragg reflectance to calculate all the parameters of the Bragg stack-the refractive indices, dimensions and numbers of the lamellae and inter-lamellar spaces. Results of the fitting analyses show that eight or nine pairs of low- and high-index layers typically contribute to the observed reflectivity in live cells, whereas six or seven pairs of low- and high-index layers typically contribute to the reflectivity in chemically fixed cells. The reflectin-containing, high-index lamellae of live cells have a refractive index proportional to the peak reflectivity, with an average of 1.405 ± 0.012 and a maximum around 1.44, while the reflectin-containing lamellae in fixed tissue have a refractive index of 1.413 ± 0.015 suggesting a slight increase of refractive index in the process of fixation. As expected, incremental changes in refractive index contribute to the greatest incremental changes in reflectivity for those Bragg stacks with the most layers. The excursions in dimensions required to tune the measured reflected wavelength from 675 (red) to 425 nm (blue) are a decrease from ca 150 to 80 nm for the high-index lamellae and from ca 120 to 50 nm for the low-index inter-lamellar spaces. Fixation-induced dimensional changes also are quantified, leading us to suggest that further microspectrophotometric analyses of this iridocyte system can be used as a model system to quantify the effects of various methods of tissue fixation. The microspectrophotometry technique described can be expected to provide deeper insights into the molecular and physical mechanisms governing other biophotonically active cells and structures.
Journal of The Royal Society Interface 01/2013; 10(85):20130386. · 4.91 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The way nature evolves and sculpts materials using proteins inspires new approaches to materials engineering but is still not completely understood. Here, we present a cell-free synthetic biological platform to advance studies of biologically synthesized solid-state materials. This platform is capable of simultaneously exerting many of the hierarchical levels of control found in natural biomineralization, including genetic, chemical, spatial, structural, and morphological control, while supporting the evolutionary selection of new mineralizing proteins and the corresponding genetically encoded materials that they produce. DNA-directed protein expression and enzymatic mineralization occur on polystyrene microbeads in water-in-oil emulsions, yielding synthetic surrogates of biomineralizing cells that are then screened by flow sorting, with light-scattering signals used to sort the resulting mineralized composites differentially. We demonstrate the utility of this platform by evolutionarily selecting newly identified silicateins, biomineralizing enzymes previously identified from the silica skeleton of a marine sponge, for enzyme variants capable of synthesizing silicon dioxide (silica) or titanium dioxide (titania) composites. Mineral composites of intermediate strength are preferentially selected to remain intact for identification during cell sorting, and then to collapse postsorting to expose the encoding genes for enzymatic DNA amplification. Some of the newly selected silicatein variants catalyze the formation of crystalline silicates, whereas the parent silicateins lack this ability. The demonstrated bioengineered route to previously undescribed materials introduces in vitro enzyme selection as a viable strategy for mimicking genetic evolution of materials as it occurs in nature.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 06/2012; 109(26):E1705-14. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the past, aligned arrays of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have been observed to exhibit a foam-like dissipative response in compression, garnering attention for possible mechanical applications. Nanoparticles have previously been integrated with graphitic materials for electrochemical applications. Here, we synthesize nanoparticles of SnO2 and MnO2 in the interstices of aligned arrays of CNTs without altering the ordered structure of the arrays, and we characterize their mechanical response. We report that CNT arrays with embedded particles present superior energy dissipation relative to unmodified CNT arrays. In addition, energy dissipation, strain recovery, and structural failure (observed after repeated loading) depend on particle type (SnO2 versus MnO2).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Large-scale industrial production of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) has recently become available, but there are relatively few reports of the investigation of these industrially produced bulk CNTs as potential electrode materials for electrochemical energy storage such as lithium-ion batteries (LIBs). Here, we report our evaluation of the electrochemical performance of the industrially produced CNTs from one manufacturer and our utilization of a kinetically controlled, vapor diffusion synthesis method combined with in-situ carbothermal reduction to homogeneously grow nanocrystalline tin (Sn) particles (∼200 nm) in the matrix of the CNTs, yielding a Sn@CNTs composite. After surface coating with a layer of carbon coating (3–4 nm), this composite was transformed to a surface-modified Sn@CNTs composite that exhibited much higher reversible capacity, initial Coulombic efficiency, and rate capacity than the pristine CNTs as anode materials for LIB.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Synchrony of spawning in many hermatypic corals, typically a few nights after the full moon, is putatively dependent on solar and lunar light cycles in conjunction with other possible cues such as tides and temperature. We analyze here the contributions of separate components of light dynamics, because the effects of twilight and lunar skylight on coral spawning synchrony have previously been conflated and the alternative hypothesis that these components have differential contributions as proximate cues has not been tested. Moonlight-dependent changes in spectra during twilight, rates of decreasing twilight intensities, and changes in lunar photoperiod were experimentally decoupled using programmed light-emitting diodes and compared for their separate effects on spawning synchrony in Acropora humilis. Effects on synchrony under the control of synthetic lunar cues were greatest in response to changes in lunar photoperiod; changes in light intensities and spectra had lesser influence. No significant differences among treatment responses were found at the circa-diel time scale. We conclude that spawning synchrony on a particular lunar night and specific time of night is a threshold response to differential periods of darkness after twilight that is primarily influenced by lunar photoperiod and secondarily by discrete optical components of early nocturnal illumination.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: New electrochromic conjugated polymers and their corresponding devices based on EDOT (ethylenedioxythiophene) are described. The best of these polymers display response times on the order of 1s and high switchable contrast in the visible and near-infrared (Vis-NIR) spectral regions. Thin films (70 nm) of these new polymers displayed optical band gaps on the order of 1.73 eV (7a) < 2.19 eV (7b) < 2.23 eV (7c) < 2.31 eV (4) < 2.34 eV (2) as calculated from their extrapolation of the absorption edges. Polymers 4 and 7a show field effect hole mobilities of ca. 6.7 × 10−5 cm2 V−1s−1 (on/off ratio 104) and 2.5 × 10−5 cm2 V−1s−1 (on/off ratio103), respectively, related to their highly ordered inter-chain packing as confirmed by XRD analyses of polymer 4. Electrochromic characterizations show that polymers 7a–c exhibit significant absorption changes in the infrared at low voltage. The resulting solid-state devices offer promise for electrochromic shutters and filters in the IR, since their high charge transfer mobility and ion injection efficiency permits relatively rapid switching and good switchable contrast, while their robustness exceeds that of aqueous devices.
New Journal of Chemistry 06/2011; 35(6). · 2.97 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The precipitation of crystals with stoichiometric and ordered arrangements of distinct metal cations often requires carefully designed molecular precursors and/or sufficient activation energy in addition to the necessary mass transport. Here, we study the formation of ordered double perovskite hydroxides, MnSn(OH)(6) and CoSn(OH)(6), of the generic chemical formula, BB'(OH)(6) (no A site), using kinetic control of aqueous hydrolysis from simple metal salt solutions. We find that the precipitation yields ordered compounds only when the B ion is Mn(II) or Co(II), and not when it is any other divalent transition metal ion, or Zn(II). The key step in forming the compounds is the prevention of rapid and uncontrolled hydrolysis of Sn(IV), and this is achieved by a fluoride counteranion. The two compounds, MnSn(OH)(6) and CoSn(OH)(6), are studied by high-resolution synchrotron X-ray diffraction and from the temperature dependence of magnetic behavior. From maximum entropy image restoration of the electron density and from Rietveld analysis, the degree of octahedral distortion and tilting and the small extent of anti-site disorder are determined. From the nonoverlapping electron density, we infer strongly ionic character of bonding. As the first magnetic study of such materials, we report simple paramagnetic behavior with no long-range magnetic order down to 2 K for the Mn(II) compound, while the cobalt compound presents uncompensated antiferromagnetic interactions, attributed to the single-ion anisotropy of octahedral Co(II).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There are dramatic and physiologically relevant changes in both skylight color and intensity during evening twilight as the pathlength of direct sunlight through the atmosphere increases, ozone increasingly absorbs long wavelengths and skylight becomes increasingly blue shifted. The moon is above the horizon at sunset during the waxing phase of the lunar cycle, on the horizon at sunset on the night of the full moon and below the horizon during the waning phase. Moonlight is red shifted compared with daylight, so the presence, phase and position of the moon in the sky could modulate the blue shifts during twilight. Therefore, the influence of the moon on twilight color is likely to differ somewhat each night of the lunar cycle, and to vary especially rapidly around the full moon, as the moon transitions from above to below the horizon during twilight. Many important light-mediated biological processes occur during twilight, and this lunar effect may play a role. One particularly intriguing biological event tightly correlated with these twilight processes is the occurrence of mass spawning events on coral reefs. Therefore, we measured downwelling underwater hyperspectral irradiance on a coral reef during twilight for several nights before and after the full moon. We demonstrate that shifts in twilight color and intensity on nights both within and between evenings, immediately before and after the full moon, are correlated with the observed times of synchronized mass spawning, and that these optical phenomena are a biologically plausible cue for the synchronization of these mass spawning events.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Nanoparticulate Cd(1-x)Zn(x)O (x = 0, 0.05-0.26, 1) is synthesized in a simple two-step synthesis approach. Vapor-diffusion induced catalytic hydrolysis of two molecular precursors at low temperature induces co-nucleation and polycondensation to produce bimetallic layered hydroxide salts (M = Cd, Zn) as precursor materials which are subsequently converted to Cd(1-x)Zn(x)O at 400 °C. Unlike ternary materials prepared by standard co-precipitation procedures, all products presented here containing < 30 mol% Zn(2+) ions are homogeneous in elemental composition on the micrometre scale. This measured compositional homogeneity within the samples, as determined by energy dispersive spectroscopy and inductively coupled plasma spectroscopy, is a testimony to the kinetic control achieved by employing slow hydrolysis conditions. In agreement with this observation, the optical properties of the materials obey Vegard's Law for a homogeneous solid solution of Cd(1-x)Zn(x)O, where x corresponds to the values determined by inductively coupled plasma analysis, even though powder X-ray diffraction shows phase separation into a cubic mixed metal oxide phase and a hexagonal ZnO phase at all doping levels.