Converting human cells to zombie cells is the stuff of nightmares for some, the stuff of scientific breakthrough for others.
Dead cells seemingly come back to life, and may even function better than when they were alive, according to researchers from Sandia National Laboratories, who came up with the process.
They coat a living mammalian cell with a silica solution and apply heat, which burns off the live organic material and hardens the silica into a "near perfect replica" of it. The so-called zombie cell retains the shape and structure of the live cell but is more stable and can withstand greater pressure and temperatures.
No, this process can't replace a live human with a walking-dead one. It's done at a nano scale - for now.
But it can be used to preserve organic material for imaging or for further study. Future applications could include fuel cells, decontamination and sensor technologies, said the report, which appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Sandia is a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin.