Rapid Bioenabled Formation of Ferroelectric BaTiO3 at Room Temperature from an Aqueous Salt Solution at Near Neutral pH

A 12-mer peptide, identified through phage display biopanning, has been used for the first time to induce the rapid formation of ferroelectric (tetragonal) nanocrystalline BaTiO3 at room temperature from an aqueous salt precursor solution at near neutral pH. BaTiO3 is widely used in capacitors, thermistors, displays, and sensors owing to its attractive dielectric, ferroelectric, pyroelectric, optical, and electrochemical properties. Two 12-mer peptides (BT1 and BT2) were selected from a phage-displayed peptide library via binding to tetragonal BaTiO3 powder. While these peptides possessed various types of amino acids, 8 of the 12 amino acids were common to both peptides. Each of these peptides induced the formation of faceted nanoparticles (50−100 nm diameter) from an aqueous precursor solution. X-ray diffraction and selected area electron diffraction patterns obtained from these faceted nanoparticles were consistent with the BaTiO3 compound. Rietveld analyses of the X-ray diffraction patterns yielded good fits to tetragonal crystal structures, with the BaTiO3 formed in the presence of the BT2 peptide exhibiting the most tetragonal character. A coating of the latter BaTiO3 nanoparticles exhibited polarization hysteresis (a well-known characteristic of ferroelectric materials) at room temperature and a relative permittivity of 2200. Such rapid, peptide-induced precipitation at room temperature provides new opportunities for direct BaTiO3 formation on low-melting or reactive materials (e.g., plastics, cloths, bio-organics) and the low temperature integration of BaTiO3 into electronic devices (e.g., on silicon or flexible polymer substrates).