Microorganisms Key to Pearly Paint

Researchers led by Andrew Parker of Green College, Oxford University, are developing techniques for culturing diatoms for their ability to alter light.  Diatoms contain networks of tiny holes, which selectively reflect light to create an opalescent effect. Diatoms can be easily cultured. Their shells can then be added to a transparent carrier.

Challenges include understanding what conditions will lead to specific structures in the diatom shells.  This knowledge combined with the development of self-assembly techniques may allow us to create artificial structures similar to the diatoms.

Thanks to Eileen Stephens for the pointer!

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