Chemistry (Weinheim an der Bergstrasse, Germany)

Control of chiral nanostructures by self-assembly of designed amphiphilic peptides and silica biomineralization.

PMID 25323634


Peptides, the fundamental building units of biological systems, are chiral in molecular scale as well as in spatial conformation. Shells are exquisite examples of well-defined chiral structures produced by natural biomineralization. However, the fundamental mechanism of chirality expressed in biological organisms remains unclear. Here, we present a system that mimics natural biomineralization and produces enantiopure chiral inorganic materials with controllable helicity. By tuning the hydrophilicity of the amphiphilic peptides, the chiral morphologies and mesostructures can be changed. With decreasing hydrophilicity of the amphiphilic peptides, we observed that the nanostructures changed from twisted nanofibers with a hexagonal mesostructure to twisted nanoribbons with a lamellar mesostructure, and the extent of the helicity decreased. Defining the mechanism of chiral inorganic materials formed from peptides by noncovalent interactions can improve strategies toward the bottom-up synthesis of nanomaterials as well as in the field of bioengineering.