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Home > News > Spying on self-assembly

August 20th, 2008

Spying on self-assembly

Abstract:
Proteins attaching to gold nanoparticles don't mill around randomly, but organise into clusters, according to UK scientists who say they have for the first time spied in detail peptides assembling on a surface.

The researchers say their study is a step towards building complex self-assembled objects at the nanoscale - such as artificial enzymes or other nanomachines that could be used in drug delivery or diagnostics.

A conventional electron microscope snapshot can't capture in detail the assembly of a small, fast-moving 'soft' biological material on a surface - such as a protein shuffling around on a nanoparticle.

But a team led by Raphaël Lévy at the University of Liverpool have now glimpsed the self-assembly process with a technique used to study protein complexes. The researchers covered gold nanoparticles with a monolayer of self assembling peptides. Most of these were short, but a few were grafted on to longer chains to create structures around 20 amino acids long - in effect creating functionalised peptide 'trees' amongst a layer of 'grass' shuffling over a gold nanoparticle.

Source:
rsc.org

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