Metallic Nanoparticles Directly Functionalized with Protein, Synthesized by Chemical Reduction in Aqueous Solution

Background While there are many ways to synthesize nanoparticles, most have proven hard to solvate. Minor temperature flux can cause nanoparticles to drop out of solution, and current methods yield solutions that last only for a week and must be kept at low temperatures. This makes working with nanoparticles in solution a hassle since the solution will have to be made as close to the time of use as possible. It also leads to reductions in effectiveness of the particle solution. In addition, particles made under current methods tend to coalesce when ground into a powder after drying.

Invention Description The Yacaman research group has created a new method to synthesize a novel biocompatible nanomaterial, consisting of a protein/particle (noble metal) conjugate that is still perfectly functionalized. The particle size distribution is monodispersed with an average diameter of less than 2 nm. Noble metal nanoparticles of this size are extremely desirable because they undergo a change in electronic structure due to quantum confinement, which makes them ideal for use in electronic devices and catalytic applications. The particles are indefinitely stable in aqueous solution at room temperature and the water content can be evaporated to yield transparent films, ranging in colors. These films can be ground into a fine dry powder without inducing nanoparticle coalescence.


Cost effective More functional particles Desirable electronic structure and physiochemical properties


Nanoparticles are functionalized with protein, directly bound to and protected within the biomolecule Monodispersed nanoparticles 2 nm diameter Stable indefinitely in aqueous solution at room temperature Can be made into a thin film Can be ground up without coalescence High yield of conjugates

Market Potential/Applications Noble-metal nanoparticles of this size and uniformity are extremely desireable as catalytic and electronic applications. Yacaman's research group used the bioconjugate to study bacterium with an electron beam microscope. The protein acts a protective shield, preventing the metal nanoparticles from poisoning the host. This suggests an opportunity to use this invention to study the metabolic processes of microorganisms without causing any harm to the organism. The microscopy performed was of very high resolution, suggesting that this invention could lead to a new method of performing electron microscopy. Even further, this invention could extend to a new type of drug delivery. Potential licensees for this technology include firms engaged in biocompatible metallic catalysts, metallic catalysts for aquaeous phase chemistry, biosensing, cell and tissue labeling, pharmaceuticals, and suppliers of academic and industrial nanotech research equipment.

Development Stage Proof of concept

IP Status One U.S. patent application filed

UT Researcher Miguel Jose Yacaman, Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin Justin Lockheart Burt, MSE, Chemical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin

Type of Offer: Licensing

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