Mechanical Simulation of a Diatom Frustule Structure

Jie Lu, Cheng Sun, Q Jane Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


Diatoms possess intricately complicated nanopatterned silica outer shells, the so called frustules. Due to their excellent three-dimensional (3D) nanostructures, diatom frustules have attracted attentions from many fields to look for potential applications, such as structural material design, light harvesting, photonics, molecular separation and bio-sensing. However, the mechanical property of frustule, especially the role of each single portion that structures a frustule, need to be clearly examined in order to provide a scientific support to frustule utilization. The reported work uses the Finite-Element (FE)-based simulation to investigate the relative mechanical properties of the frustule of the diatom Coscinodiscus sp. as compared with reference non-frustule structures. A three-dimensional model for the three featured layers of this frustule and a simplified model for its girdle band are built with the assistance of ABAQUS. A basic-cell concept is suggested; and the comparative results of several simulation groups are reported. The numerical results indicate that the seven-unit-cell model is able to catch the essential mechanics of the Coscinodiscus sp. frustule under pressure and that the layered and porous structure of this frustule can effectively resist pressure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-108
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Bionic Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Bio-material
  • Diatom frustule
  • FE
  • Simulation
  • Structure analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering

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