Viruses as vehicles for growth, organization and assembly of materials

Christine E. Flynn, Seung Wuk Lee, Beau R. Peelle, Angela M. Belcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

283 Citations (Scopus)


Viruses have been used as scaffolds for the peptide-directed synthesis of magnetic and semiconducting materials, and have been further exploited in the formation of nanowires and liquid crystals. Reviewed in this manuscript is the work of Douglas, Mann, Fraden, Belcher, DeYoreo and others who have either exploited native viral structures to grow or assemble materials, or have genetically modified existing viral structures to specifically affect the growth and mineralization of inorganic materials. Rod-shaped viruses, including M13 bacteriophage and tobacco mosaic viruses, have been used in the synthesis of nanowires of metals, semiconductors and magnetic materials. The cowpea chlorotic mottle and the cowpea mosaic viruses have been used as nucleation cages for the mineralization of materials such as iron oxide and polyoxometalates. The exterior of such cages has been chemically modified with conjugating linkers as well as with polymeric materials and fluorophores. Further, viral-inorganic complexes have been incorporated into liquid crystal systems as well as self-supporting viral thin films and viral fibers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5867-5880
Number of pages14
JournalActa Materialia
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - Nov 25 2003
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Metals and Alloys


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