Argonne National Laboratory Center for Nanoscale Materials U.S. Department of Energy

Using Biomolecules to Guide Assembly of Inorganic Nanostructures

Lee Makowski

A number of potential methods might be useful in guiding the assembly of inorganic nanostructures. A key objective in this effort is the ability to specify the exact locations of different nanoparticles within a nanostructure, a capability that will be critical in designing and producing future nanodevices.


One technique discussed involves the possibility of using proteins to create a framework on which nanoparticles could then be attached at specified points. Some type of chemical processing could then be used to remove the organics after assembly. Attaching the inorganic particles to a protein framework might be accomplished using binding sites identified via "phage display" techniques where phage-displaying proteins with randomized surfaces are selected for an affinity to a desired inorganic material. The advantages of this method include the ability to isolate a single binding phage and then grow large quantities of it for characterization. A particularly advantageous type of protein for these constructs are diabodies, constructed from fragments of antibodies. These can incorporate binding sites identified through phage display and then be used to attach inorganic materials at preselected places on the protein framework.

One seemingly insurmountable requirement for these processes is the need to use aqueous solutions to enable the molecules to interact and bind. The need for aqueous environments will most likely prevent or limit the use of certain inorganic materials.

January 9, 2002

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