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Benvenuti in queste pagine dedicate a scienza ed arte. Amelia Carolina Sparavigna

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sponges and glass fibers

The Venus' Flower Basket, or Euplectella aspergillum, is a deep ocean sponge. In traditional Asian cultures, this particular sponge, in the dry state, was given as a wedding gift. The reason is that this sponge is the house for a couple of small shrimp. The shrimp inside of the basket clean it, and in return, the basket provides food  by trapping it in its fiberglass-like strands, and then releasing it into the body of the sponge for the shrimp. The sponge  is also bioluminescent.
The glassy fibers that attach the sponge to the ocean floor,  are of interest to fiber optics researchers. The sponge extracts silicic acid from seawater and converts it into silica, then forms it into an elaborate skeleton of glass fibers. Other sponges  can also produce glass biologically. The current manufacturing process for optical fibers requires high temperatures and produces a brittle fiber. A low-temperature process for creating and arranging such fibers, inspired by sponges, could offer more control over the optical properties of the fibers.
More http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus'_Flower_Basket