Issue Date: June 1, 2009
A Simpler Route To Multifunctional Nanocomposites
Viruses can be used as biological templates for nanoscale heterostructures without the need for extensive genetic engineering, a group led by Raymond E. Schaak of Pennsylvania State University reports (Chem. Mater., DOI: 10.1021/cm900869u). Schaak and colleagues took advantage of nonspecific electrostatic interactions along the body of the M13 bacteriophage, a filamentous virus that infects bacteria, to nucleate rhodium nanoparticles and coat the length of the phage with Rh. Having previously selected a phage with a peptide at the tip that preferentially binds Fe3O4, the researchers then added Fe3O4 particles to the head of the phage. The combined modifications turned the phage into a magnetically separable catalyst, with the rhodium able to hydrogenate styrene to ethylbenzene and the Fe3O4 contributing magnetic properties. The approach "provides a straightforward platform for designing site-directed multifunctionality into commercially available M13 bacteriophage and serves as a simple method for introducing multicomponent architectures into phage-based scaffolds," the authors write.
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