Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Responsive hybrid nanomaterials with well-defined properties are of significant interest for the development of biosensors with additional applications in tissue engineering and drug delivery. Here, we present a detailed characterization using UV-vis spectroscopy and small angle X-ray scattering of a hybrid material comprised of polypeptide-decorated gold nanoparticles with highly controllable assembly properties. The assembly is triggered by a folding-dependent bridging of the particles mediated by the heteroassociation of immobilized helix-loop-helix polypeptides and a complementary nonlinear polypeptide present in solution. The polypeptides are de novo designed to associate and fold into a heterotrimeric complex comprised of two disulfide-linked four-helix bundles. The particles form structured assemblies with a highly defined interparticle gap (4.8±0.4 nm) that correlates to the size of the folded polypeptides. Transitions in particle aggregation dynamics, mass-fractal dimensions and ordering, as a function of particle size and the concentration of the bridging polypeptide, are observed; these have significant effects on the optical properties of the assemblies. The assembly and ordering of the particles are highly complex processes that are affected by a large number of variables including the number of polypeptides bridging the particles and the particle mobility within the aggregates. A fundamental understanding of these processes is of paramount interest for the development of novel hybrid nanomaterials with tunable structural and optical properties and for the optimization of nanoparticle-based colorimetric biodetection strategies.

Original publication




Journal article


Nano Lett

Publication Date





5564 - 5573


Gold, Nanoparticles, Peptides, Protein Folding, Scattering, Small Angle, Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet, X-Ray Diffraction