A team at Sandia National Laboratories and the University of New Mexico have innovated a technique whereby mammalian cells are coated with silica to form a near-perfect replicas.
By painting the cells with silicic acid in a petri dish, the acid embalms the organic matter in the cell down to the nanometer level.
The silica then acts as a permeable armour, according to Michael Hess at the American Office of Public Affairs.
That means the cell beneath can be used as a catalyst at far greater temperatures than normal.
Heating the silica to around 400C evaporates the protein in the cell, but leaves the silica as a three-dimensional replica of the "formerly living being", Hess said.
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