M13 virus aerogels as a scaffold for functional inorganic materials

The filamentous M13 viruses are widely used as a bio-template to assemble many different functional structures. In this work, based on its shape anisotropy, reasonable aspect ratio (length to diameter of ≈130), and low density, freestanding, bulk 3D aerogels are assembled from M13 for the first time. These ultralight porous structures demonstrate excellent mechanical properties with elastic behavior up to 90% compression. Furthermore, as the genome of M13 virus can be rationally engineered so that proteins on its capsid or ends can specifically bind to various inorganic materials, aerogels made from inorganic-complexed M13 structures with versatile functionalities are also developed. As examples for mono- and multi-component structures, M13-Ru and M13-CoFe2O4 are explored in this work. This method enables the production of a wide variety of freestanding inorganic material aerogels with extensive opportunities for bio-scaffolds, energy storage, thermoelectrics, catalysis, hydrogen storage applications, etc., in the future.

Jung, S.M., Qi, J., Oh, D., Belcher, A. and Kong, J.
Advanced Functional Materials
Volume: 37
Number: 4
Pages: 1603203
Date: January, 2017
ICB Affiliated Authors: Angela M Belcher