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Title: Synthetic fossilization of soft biological tissues and their shape-preserving transformation into silica or electron-conductive replicas

Structural preservation of complex biological systems from the subcellular to whole organism level in robust forms, enabling dissection and imaging while preserving 3D context, represents an enduring grand challenge in biology. Here we report a simple immersion method for structurally preserving intact organisms via conformal stabilization within silica. This self-limiting process, which we refer to as silica bioreplication, occurs by condensation of water-soluble silicic acid proximally to biomolecular interfaces throughout the organism. Conformal nanoscopic silicification of all biomolecular features imparts structural rigidity enabling the preservation of shape and nano-to-macroscale dimensional features upon drying to form a biocomposite and further high temperature oxidative calcination to form silica replicas or reductive pyrolysis to form electrically conductive carbon replicas of complete organisms. Ultimately, the simplicity and generalizability of this approach should facilitate efforts in biological preservation and analysis and could enable the development of new classes of biomimetic composite materials.
Authors:
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [3] ;  [5] ;  [5]
  1. Univ. of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM (United States). Division of Molecular Medicine; Univ. of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM (United States).Center for Micro- Engineered Materials
  2. Univ. of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM (United States). Division of Molecular Medicine; Univ. of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM (United States).Center for Micro- Engineered Materials
  3. Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States). Advanced Materials Lab.
  4. Univ. of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM (United States).Center for Micro- Engineered Materials
  5. Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States). Advanced Materials Lab.; Univ. of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM (United States). Dept. of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
1261094
Grant/Contract Number:
AC04-94AL85000; FA9550-14-1-0066; R25CA153825; CBET-1344298
Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 5; Journal ID: ISSN 2041-1723
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Research Org:
Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22); Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), Wright-Patterson AFB, OH (United States); New Mexico Cancer Nanotechnology Training Center (CNTC), Albuquerque, NM (United States); National Science Foundation (NSF), Washington, DC (United States)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES biological sciences; materials science