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Biological and bioactive silicon systems

Patwardhan, Siddharth V. and Clarson, Stephen J. (2012) Biological and bioactive silicon systems. Silicon, 4 (1). pp. 1-3. ISSN 1876-990X

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Abstract

Silicon will probably be the most important element of the 21st Century. Silicon is the most “renewable” or “sustainable” element in that approximately 74%of the Earth’s crust is made up of silicon and oxygen. Silicon is an essential micronutrient for humans and it is also biotransformed on a vast scale by organisms such as diatoms and sponges (it has been reported to be bioprocessed at scales >6.7×109 tonnes of silicon per year) [1, 2]. It is also the basis of the global electronics and optoelectronics industries. Silica and silicates are used in glasses, glazes, ceramics, and composites. These materials have applications in a wide range of areas such as pharmaceuticals, industrial catalysts, cosmetics, detergents and dental materials [3–6]. Silicones are the most successful of the inorganic polymers and they find applications as fluids, resins, rubbers, gels and foams [7]. Silicon carbide is an important ceramic and silica is applied in composite materials as the reinforcing phase. In the field of coatings, silicon is widely used in a variety of chemical vapour deposition methods and in related thin film deposition techniques [8–11]. Silanes are utilised as primers and adhesion promoters. Small molecule silicon chemistry continues to engage materials scientists worldwide.