Two-Dimensional Nanoparticle Arrays Derived from Ferritin Monolayers

A scalable technique for making silica coatings with embedded two-dimensional arrays of iron oxide nanoparticles is presented. The iron oxide nanoparticle arrays were formed by depositing quasi-crystalline ferritin layers, an iron storage protein with an iron oxide mineral core, on solid substrates by a spread-coating technique based on evaporation-induced convective assembly. The layer of protein molecular arrays was then encapsulated in a silica matrix film deposited from a sol precursor. The organic protein shell of the ferritin molecules was then removed by controlled pyrolysis, leaving ordered iron oxide cores bound in the silica matrix. This article is the first report on combining convective self-assembly of proteins with sol−gel techniques of oxide film formation. The technique is technologically feasible and scalable to make coatings of encapsulated ordered magnetic clusters tens of cm2 or larger in size.