Solvent-Induced Assembly of Microbial Protein Nanowires into Superstructured Bundles

Biomacromolecules. 2021 Mar 8;22(3):1305-1311. doi: 10.1021/acs.biomac.0c01790. Epub 2021 Feb 16.

Abstract

Protein-based electronic biomaterials represent an attractive alternative to traditional metallic and semiconductor materials due to their environmentally benign production and purification. However, major challenges hindering further development of these materials include (1) limitations associated with processing proteins in organic solvents and (2) difficulties in forming higher-order structures or scaffolds with multilength scale control. This paper addresses both challenges, resulting in the formation of one-dimensional bundles composed of electrically conductive protein nanowires harvested from the microbes Geobacter sulfurreducens and Escherichia coli. Processing these bionanowires from common organic solvents, such as hexane, cyclohexane, and DMF, enabled the production of multilength scale structures composed of distinctly visible pili. Transmission electron microscopy revealed striking images of bundled protein nanowires up to 10 μm in length and with widths ranging from 50-500 nm (representing assembly of tens to hundreds of nanowires). Conductive atomic force microscopy confirmed the presence of an appreciable nanowire conductivity in their bundled state. These results greatly expand the possibilities for fabricating a diverse array of protein nanowire-based electronic device architectures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Electric Conductivity
  • Electron Transport
  • Geobacter*
  • Nanowires*
  • Solvents

Substances

  • Solvents

Supplementary concepts

  • Geobacter sulfurreducens