Nanostructured amorphous silica in rice plants (biosilica or plant opal) plays an important role in plant growth related to food production. However, the same silica has a structural supporting role as well that has not been uncovered. The current study focuses on the structural design of the two main types of biosilicas in rice plants for the improvement of their mechanical properties. One structural motif is plate-like silicas, which cover most of the surfaces of leaf blades. Another is fan-shaped silicas, which are aligned inside leaf blades, providing a stiff backbone. These biosilica structures consist of 10-100 nm diameter nanoparticles. The mechanical properties, such as hardness and Young's modulus, of the biosilicas are associated with their relative density. Thus, the rice plant mechanics is inferred to be designed by changing the packing of the nanoparticles. Silica plates consisting of loosely packed particles have relatively low density and high flexibility enabling coverage of leaf blade surfaces, while fan-shaped silicas, which consist of tightly packed nanoparticles, are rigid to support the leaf blades as a backbone.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering(all)