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Rational Design of Polypeptoids for Silica Mineralization

January 4, 2024

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A polypeptoid molecule (black) that binds more strongly to a silica surface by adopting an extended conformation produces monodisperse silica nanoparticles at much lower concentrations than the peptide it was based upon (red).

Scientific Achievement

Rational design facilitated by molecular simulations was used to propose new peptoid biopolymers for improved morphological control of biomimetic silica synthesis.

Significance and Impact

The findings demonstrate that new sequence-defined polymers (peptoids) can improve on traditional biomimetic synthesis pathways for silica, an important material with biotechnological applications in catalysis. This framework is generalizable to the synthesis of other biomimetic materials.

Research Details

  • Molecular dynamics simulations were conducted on a silaffin-derived peptide, an exact peptoid mimic, and a synthesizable peptoid analog to identify atomic scale features modulating silica binding.

  • Surface plasmon resonance experiments confirmed the predictions while electron microscopy showed that monodisperse silica nanoparticles can be obtained at 3-fold lower concentrations of the peptoid analog relative to the silaffin-derived peptide.

Torkelson, K., N.Y. Naser, X. Qi, Z. Li, W. Yang, K. Pushpavanam, C-L Chen, F. Baneyx, and J. Pfaendtner. (2024). Rational design of novel biomimetic sequence-defined polymers for mineralization applications. Chemistry of Materials 36 (2), 786-794. DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.3c02216

Work was performed at the University of of Washington and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Thrust 1: Emergence of Order: Research


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