Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)


Applied Science


Hannes Schniepp

Committee Members

Hannes Schniepp

Jonathan Frey

Walker Smith


Materials with hierarchical structure often exhibit impressive material properties and functionalities; however, modern manufacturing techniques cannot produce centimeter-scale components with geometries on the scale of nanometers. Biofabrication has the potential to overcome this trade-off by taking advantage of naturally occurring micro- and nanoscale architectures. This paper explores the biofabrication of large-scale hierarchical geometries using the intricate nanostructure of live diatoms as a microscale building block. Diatom growth patterns through hydrogels produced via 3D printing simulations are studied. Diatom manipulation with light and nutrient access during the incubation process of these gels is also explored. Thermal processing experiments are conducted on diatom xerogels and cryogels to fuse the diatoms’ silica frustules together and form a bonded material. Two different species of diatoms, Navicula trivialis and Thalassiosira pseudonana, are utilized in this project and the different growth patterns and post-processing results of each are analyzed.