Leeds Centre for Crystallization

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PhD positions

Controlled fabrication of magnetic nanoparticle arrays using nanopatterned templating biomineralisation proteins

Sarah Staniland (School of Physics)

PhDs inspired by magnetic bacteria that produce precise magnetite MNP (magnetosomes) within their cells. We aim to utilise their methods to produce enhanced nanomagnets through a number of different approaches.

The design and fabrication of intricate and precise MNP arrays will be hugely beneficial to the nanotechnological industry as well as academic enquires into the properties of nanomagnetism. In this project we will adopt a novel synthetic approach developed by our group that utilises top-down lithographic techniques combined with bottom up chemical MNP synthesis and with biomimetic synthesis.

Figure 2: Schematic of Patterned MNP surfaces formation and SEM & AFM/MFM images

Many biological organisms use proteins to biomineralise inorganic materials and these proteins enforce a large degree of control on the materials size shape and composition, construct highly monodispersed and reproducible intricate materials. Magnetic bacteria take up iron and biomineralise MNP of magnetite within their cell (Figure). A protein from this bacterium has been identified (Mms6) that controls MNP formation in vitro. Our group has developed biomimetic synthesis of MNP utilising this protein in a chemical precipitation. We have then attached this protein to surfaces in patterned so and mineralised MNPs on these proteins, producing patterned of MNPs on surfaces (figure 2). Here the protein locates the MNPs in a patterned array and controls the size and shape of the particles.

In this project we will advance and develop this research further by reducing the size of the patterns to the nanoscale to ideally achieve patterned arrays of single MNPs which can then be subjected to nanomagnetic analysed. The project will further the scope of this methodology by applying it to new materials by using different chemical reagents and biomineralisation proteins to create biomimetic novel architectures on surfaces.