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BioHybrid Optoelectronic Materials

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BiHyOMat (BioHybrid Optoelectronic Materials)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2020-05-31

BiHyOMat is an ambitious research at the interface of chemistry, physics and biology, aiming to produce novel high-end materials for medical and environmental applications. The reversible conjugation of proteins and light absorbing molecules will combine the biocompatibility and defined structure of the former with the light-induced properties of the later. In particular, fluorescence and generated of reactive oxygen species have extensive application in sensors, photodynamic therapy or waste-water treatment.

The overall objectives are:
- Develop and validate new synthetic approaches towards monodimensional protein aggregates. This morphology will enhance the contact with the media, increasing the efficiency of the material.
- Create novel morphologies as scaffold to conjugate with magnetic nanoparticles or create metal nanoparticles.

The BiHyOMat project yielded three publications in high impact factor journals, exploring the preparation of anisotropic biohybrids with optical properties. The scientific output has generated the initial drive for a promising scientific career for the researcher. The action provided the necessary tools for career development: a wide and multidisciplinary collaboration network, teaching skills, group management and public outreach.
At first, highly-charged molecules were synthesized and employed as molecular glue for protein electrostatic assembly. These molecules were employed to direct the rod-like tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) protein as scaffold for anisotropic materials (E. Anaya-Plaza et al., Adv. Mater. 2019). The preparation of high aspect‐ratio fibers was achieved by step‐wise decrease of the NaCl concentration in the media. This electrostatically driven assembly is fully reversible upon NaCl addition. The hybrids where structurally characterized by means of small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and microscopy, including cryo-EM reconstruction. The oxidizing activity was tested by irradiating the sample at adequate wavelengths, photogenerating reactive oxygen species. The hybrids showed remarkable structural stability, allowing their incorporation in continuous-flow sets-up that performed resiliently over 10 cycles with a total irradiation time of 20 minutes, which proves their ability to perform in water remediation technologies.
Other morphologies were explored, employing toroidal proteins. Conjugation with cationic dyes was achieved, yielding rod-like aggregates that present inner pores able to undergo minerallization or external decoration.

The project's results were diseminated in the scientific community and the general public in form of participation in congresses, press releases and open public meetings.
The BiHyOMat project achieved, for the first time, anisotropic protein assemblies through electrostatic interaction. The resulting fibers proved their robustness and photoactivity in continuous flow set-up, in an unprecedented approach for water remediation. Additionally, toroidal protein aggregates have been achieved, resulting in porous materials for their exploitation in nanoparticle fabrication.
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