An Engineered Virus as a Scaffold for Three-Dimensional Self-Assembly on the Nanoscale


  • Research support by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is gratefully acknowledged. T.L.B. thanks the National Research Council for fellowship support.


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Exquisite control over positioning nanoscale components on a protein scaffold allows bottom-up self-assembly of nanodevices. Using cowpea mosaic virus, modified to express cysteine residues on the capsid exterior, gold nanoparticles were attached to the viral scaffold to produce specific interparticle distances (see picture). The nanoparticles were then interconnected using thiol-terminated conjugated organic molecules that act as “molecular wires”, resulting in a 3D spherical conductive network, which is only 30 nm in diameter.