Biological Control of Nanoparticle Nucleation, Shape and Crystal Phase

Life Sciences : Materials and Compounds

Available for non-exclusive licensing


  • Angela Belcher, Ph.D. , Biomedical Engineering
  • Christine Flynn, Ph.D. , Materials Science and Engineering
  • Seung-Wuk Lee, Ph.D. , Chemistry

Background/unmet need

Semiconductor nanocrystals exhibit size- and shape-dependent optical and electrical properties which allow for their application in a variety of devices, such as light emitting diodes (LEDs), single electron transistors, photovoltaics, optical and magnetic memory, diagnostic assays, and sensors. To exploit these optical and electrical properties, it is necessary to synthesize well-crystallized semiconductor nanocrystals with tailored size and shape control.

Invention Description

This invention has shown proof of concept of a highly novel technique for selection of peptides that can 1) recognize and bind technologically important materials with face specificity, 2) nucleate size constrained crystalline semiconductor materials, 3) control the crystallographic phase of nucleated nanoparticles, and 4) control the aspect ratio of the peptides and therefore the optical properties. The use of mixtures of inorganic-biological materials as building blocks could serve as the basis for a radically new means of fabrication of complex electronic devices, optoelectronic devices such as light emitting displays, optical detectors and lasers, fast interconnects, wavelength-selective switches, nanometer-scale computer components, mammalian implants, and environmental and medical diagnostics.


  • Less toxic
  • Low temperature
  • Able to control the aspect ratio of the peptides


  • Able to grow technologically important inorganic materials at a nanolength scale
  • Able to control size of nanoparticles

IP Status

  • 2 foreign patents issued