The possibility to direct nanoscale structural order in complex matter is an important prerequisite for the preparation and characterisation of next-generation functional materials. Hierarchically ordered multicomponent materials are particularly interesting in this respect, since they allow controlled integration of different nanoparticle/material building blocks into periodic nanostructures with lattice constants that are much shorter than the wavelength of light. However, most of the current nanostructured materials consist of fully synthetic or biological materials since the integration of biological and synthetic building blocks in a designed manner remains a challenging task.
Here we propose an approach based on the co-assembly of biological protein cages and synthetic materials to bridge the gap between ordered synthetic materials and biological assemblies. Protein-based nanocages, such as ferritins and virus capsids, offer a complex yet monodisperse and geometrically well-defined cage that can be used to encapsulate different materials. We will utilize ferritin and virus particles as a size constrained reaction vessels to prepare monodisperse iron oxide nanoparticles and combine these electrostatically with synthetic noble metal nanoparticles to yield diverse crystal arrangement with coupled magnetic and plasmonic properties. During the course of the project, we will address important challenges, such as how to design responsive and collectively behaving biohybrid materials and to push the research and results beyond the current state-of-the-art. We aim to achieve this by using unconventional methods in designing, synthesising and applying new functional materials whose interactions and co-crystalline packing with biomacromolecules can be controlled. Potential outcomes include magnetically tuneable plasmonic assemblies, porous materials capable of simultaneous binding of organic and inorganic guest and protein cage crystal template inorganic nanostructures.
Fields of science
Call for proposal
See other projects for this call