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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Jun 10;100(12):6946-51. Epub 2003 May 30.

Viral assembly of oriented quantum dot nanowires.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Center for Nano- and Molecular Science and Technology, and Texas Materials Institute, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78712, USA.


The highly organized structure of M13 bacteriophage was used as an evolved biological template for the nucleation and orientation of semiconductor nanowires. To create this organized template, peptides were selected by using a pIII phage display library for their ability to nucleate ZnS or CdS nanocrystals. The successful peptides were expressed as pVIII fusion proteins into the crystalline capsid of the virus. The engineered viruses were exposed to semiconductor precursor solutions, and the resultant nanocrystals that were templated along the viruses to form nanowires were extensively characterized by using high-resolution analytical electron microscopy and photoluminescence. ZnS nanocrystals were well crystallized on the viral capsid in a hexagonal wurtzite or a cubic zinc blende structure, depending on the peptide expressed on the viral capsid. Electron diffraction patterns showed single-crystal type behavior from a polynanocrystalline area of the nanowire formed, suggesting that the nanocrystals on the virus were preferentially oriented with their [001] perpendicular to the viral surface. Peptides that specifically directed CdS nanocrystal growth were also engineered into the viral capsid to create wurtzite CdS virus-based nanowires. Lastly, heterostructured nucleation was achieved with a dual-peptide virus engineered to express two distinct peptides within the same viral capsid. This work represents a genetically controlled biological synthesis route to a semiconductor nanoscale heterostructure.

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