Highly adjustable 3D nano-architectures and chemistries via assembled 1D biological templates
Porous metal nanofoams have made significant contributions to a diverse set of technologies from separation and filtration to aerospace. Nonetheless, finer control over nano and microscale features must be gained to reach the full potential of these materials in energy storage, catalytic, and sensing applications. As biologics naturally occur and assemble into nano and micro architectures, templating on assembled biological materials enables nanoscale architectural control without the limited chemical scope or specialized equipment inherent to alternative synthetic techniques. Here, we rationally assemble 1D biological templates into scalable, 3D structures to fabricate metal nanofoams with a variety of genetically programmable architectures and material chemistries. We demonstrate that nanofoam architecture can be modulated by manipulating viral assembly, specifically by editing the viral surface coat protein, as well as altering templating density. These architectures were retained over a broad range of compositions including monometallic and bi-metallic combinations of noble and transition metals of copper, nickel, cobalt, and gold. Phosphorous and boron incorporation was also explored. In addition to increasing the surface area over a factor of 50, as compared to the nanofoam’s geometric footprint, this process also resulted in a decreased average crystal size and altered phase composition as compared to non-templated controls. Finally, templated hydrogels were deposited on the centimeter scale into an array of substrates as well as free standing foams, demonstrating the scalability and flexibility of this synthetic method towards device integration. As such, we anticipate that this method will provide a platform to better study the synergistic and de-coupled effects between nano-structure and composition for a variety of appli- cations including energy storage, catalysis, and sensing.