"Facet-specific biomolecules can be used to direct the growth of nanocrystals, and most importantly, now we can do it in a predictable fashion," said Huang, senior author of the study. "This is still a first step, but we have overcome the challenges by finding the most specific and selective peptide sequences through a rational selection process."
Huang's team accomplished this by using a phage library that generated a pool of peptide sequences. The team was then able to identify the selectivity of peptide sequences on different crystal surfaces. The next step, the researchers say, is to figure out what exactly is happening on the interface and to be able to describe the characterizations of the interface.
"We don't know the molecular details yet that's like the holy grail of molecular biomimetics," Huang said. "Take the catalyst, for example. If we can predict the synthesized catalyst for just one surface, it could have much more improved activity and selectivity. We are still in the initial phase of what we really want to do, which is to see whether or not we can eventually program the synthesis of material structures."
"It's always been a personal interest to learn from the natural evolutionary selection process and apply it to research," Chiu said. "It is especially satisfying to be able to engineer a rational selection process for nanoscale materials to create nanocrystals with desired shapes."
|Contact: Wileen Wong Kromhout|
University of California - Los Angeles