Peptide Sequence Effects Control the Single Pot Reduction, Nucleation, and Growth of Au Nanoparticles

Catherine J. Munro, Zak E. Hughes, Tiffany R. Walsh, Marc R. Knecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Peptides have demonstrated unique capabilities to fabricate inorganic nanomaterials of numerous compositions through noncovalent binding of the growing surface in solution. In this contribution, we demonstrate that these biomolecules can control all facets of Au nanoparticle fabrication, including Au3+ reduction, without the use of secondary reagents. In this regard using the AuBP1 peptide, the N-terminal tryptophan residue is responsible for driving Au3+ reduction to generate Au nanoparticles passivated by the oxidized peptide in solution, where localized residue context effects control the reducing strength of the biomolecule. The process was fully monitored by both time-resolved monitoring of the growth of the localized surface plasmon resonance and transmission electron microscopy. Nanoparticle growth occurs by a unique disaggregation of nanoparticle aggregates in solution. Computational modeling demonstrated that the oxidized residue of the peptide sequence does not impact the biomolecule's ability to bind the inorganic surface, as compared to the parent peptide, confirming that the biomolecule can be exploited for all steps in the nanoparticle fabrication process. Overall, these results expand the utility of peptides for the fabrication of inorganic nanomaterials, more strongly mimicking their use in nature via biomineralization processes. Furthermore, these capabilities enhance the simplicity of nanoparticle production and could find rapid use in the generation of complex multicomponent materials or nanoparticle assembly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18917-18924
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number33
StatePublished - Aug 25 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Energy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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