Langmuir, 2015, vol 31, 33, pp. 9188-9197
By taking advantage of the physical and chemical properties of the M13 bacteriophage, we have used this virus to synthesize mesoporous silica structures. Major coat protein p8 was chemically modified by attaching thiol groups. As we show, the resulting thiolated phage can be used as a biotemplate able to direct the formation of mesoporous silica materials. Simultaneously, this thiol functionality acts as an anchor for binding metal ions, such as Au3+ and Pt4+, forming reactive M13–metal ionic complexes which evolve into metal nanoparticles (NPs) trapped in the mesoporous network. Interestingly, Au3+ ions are reduced to Au0 NPs by the protein residues without requiring an external reducing agent. Likewise, silica mesostructures decorated with Au and Pt NPs are prepared in a one-pot synthesis and characterized using different techniques. The obtained results allow us to propose a mechanism of formation. In addition, gold-containing mesoporous structures are tested for the reduction of 4-nitrophenol (4-NP) and methylene blue (MB) in the presence of NaBH4. Although all of the gold-containing catalysts exhibit catalytic activity, those obtained with thiolated phages present a better performance than that obtained with M13 alone. This behavior is ascribed to the position of the Au NPs, which are partially embedded in the wall of the final mesostructures.