Algae-mediated biosynthesis of inorganic nanomaterials as a promising route in nanobiotechnology – a review
Promising nanotechnological platforms, based on inorganic nanoparticles and nanomaterials, have emerged in such fields as targeted drug delivery, bio- and chemical sensing, catalysis, antimicrobial coatings, and optoelectronic devices, among others. However, concerns regarding the sustainability of physicochemically-synthesized nanomaterials, which often require energy-intensive processes, high temperatures, toxic solvents or undesirable chemical wastes, have also emerged. Researchers have therefore looked to replace chemical syntheses by sustainable and environmentally friendly techniques. Biosynthesis of nanomaterials, i.e., the use of living organisms, their components, extracts or biomolecules, as catalysts for the sustainable production of nanomaterials, has experienced a tremendous expansion during the last two decades. Among these production platforms, the roles of algae have attracted increasing attention from research scientists worldwide. The aim of the present review, the first of its kind, is to provide important information to readers regarding the diversity of algal strains exploited in the booming field of nanobiotechnology and green chemistry, the various methodologies through which these diverse organisms are used, the variety of fabricated nanomaterials composed of noble metals, oxides and chalcogenides, and the significance of the large range of sizes and shapes of these nanomaterials that confer to them unique properties desirable for specific bio-applications.