"Biotemplated synthesis of inorganic materials: An emerging paradigm for nanomaterial synthesis inspired by nature"

Brad A.Krajina: Amy C.Proctor, Alia P.Schoen, Andrew J.Spakowitz, Sarah C.Heilshorn; Progress in Materials Science, 08/08/17.

Additional Authors: Amy C.Proctor, Alia P.Schoen, Andrew J.Spakowitz, Sarah C.Heilshorn


Biomineralization, the process by which biological systems direct the synthesis of inorganic structures from organic templates, is an exquisite example of nanomaterial self-assembly in nature. Its products include the shells of mollusks and the bones and teeth of vertebrates. By comparison, conventional inorganic synthesis techniques provide limited control over inorganic nanomaterial architecture. Inspired by biomineralization in nature, over the last two decades, the field of biotemplating has emerged as a new paradigm for inorganic nanomaterial assembly, wherein researchers seek to design novel nano-structures in which inorganic nanomaterial synthesis is directed from an underlying biomolecular template. Here, we review the motivation, mechanistic understanding, progress, and challenges for the field of biotemplating. We highlight the interdisciplinary nature of this field, and survey a broad range of examples of bio-templated engineering: ranging from strategies that exploit the inherent capabilities of proteins in nature, to genetically-engineered systems that unlock new capabilities for self-assembly with biomolecules. We illustrate that the use of biological materials as templates for inorganic self-assembly holds tremendous potential for nanomaterial engineering, with applications that range from electronics and energy to medicine.