Developing an efficient method to fabricate nanoscale building blocks and organize them into functional architectures is the key to nanoscience and nanotechnology. As a result of millions years of evolution, biological systems can provide spatially defined host systems that can be used as templates for uniform fabrication of structured materials with different length scales. Viruses, in this regard, exemplify an extraordinarily organized nano-architecture: they are complex molecular biosystems in which nucleic acid strands are confined within a nano-size compartment (capsid). This project engages the use of an emptied ligand-displayed phage virus as a template to synthesize magnetic nanoparticles. Benefiting from the phage display technology, the particle generated inside the hollow phage has integrated biorecognition elements with high affinity and specificity for selected target molecules. In addition, the size and shape of the magnetic particles can be highly regulated by molecularly engineering virus capsid.
We are developing a novel biological sensor based on the detection of changes in dynamic magnetic properties of ligand-displayed magnetic phage viruses upon their binding to the target molecules. Its intrinsic signal transduction is based on the shift of distinct resonance oscillation frequency of magnetic virus to signature the biorecognition, which can be probed by ac-susceptibility measurements. The development of magnetic virus-based sensor will provide a foundation for the next generation of magnetic-based biodetection and biochip devices.