M13 Virus Aerogels as a Scaffold for Functional Inorganic Materials
The filamentous M13 viruses are widely used as a bio-template to assemble many different functional structures. In this work, based on its shape anisotropy, reasonable aspect ratio (length to diameter of approximate to 130), and low density, freestanding, bulk 3D aerogels are assembled from M13 for the first time. These ultralight porous structures demonstrate excellent mechanical properties with elastic behavior up to 90% compression. Furthermore, as the genome of M13 virus can be rationally engineered so that proteins on its capsid or ends can specifically bind to various inorganic materials, aerogels made from inorganic-complexed M13 structures with versatile functionalities are also developed. As examples for mono- and multi-component structures, M13-Ru and M13-CoFe2O4 are explored in this work. This method enables the production of a wide variety of freestanding inorganic material aerogels with extensive opportunities for bio-scaffolds, energy storage, thermoelectrics, catalysis, hydrogen storage applications, etc., in the future.
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