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Keywords:

  • optics;
  • reflectin;
  • self-assembly;
  • structural coloration;
  • thin films

Abstract

Reflectins are a unique group of structural proteins involved in dynamic optical systems in cephalopods that modulate incident light or bioluminescence. We describe cloning, structural characterization, and optical properties of a reflectin-based domain, refCBA, from reflectin 1a of Hawaiian bobtail squid, Euprymna scolopes. Thin films created from the recombinant protein refCBA display interesting optical features when the recombinant protein is appropriately organized. RefCBA was cloned and expressed as a soluble protein enabling purification, with little structural organization found using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and circular dichroism. Single-layer and multi-layer thin films of refCBA were then produced by flow coating and spin coating, and displayed colors due to thin film interference. Diffraction experiments showed the assemblies were ordered enough to work as diffraction gratings to generate diffraction patterns. Nano-spheres and lamellar microstructures of refCBA samples were observed by scanning electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy. Despite the reduced complexity of the refCBA protein compared to natural reflectins, unique biomaterials with similar properties to reflectins were generated by self-assembled reflectin-based refCBA molecules. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part B: Polym Phys, 2013