Generation of polypeptide-templated gold nanoparticles using ionizing radiation

Candace Rae Walker, Karthik Pushpavanam, Divya Geetha Nair, Thrimoorthy Potta, Caesario Sutiyoso, Vikram Kodibagkar, Stephen Sapareto, John Chang, Kaushal Rege

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Ionizing radiation, including γ rays and X-rays, are high-energy electromagnetic radiation with diverse applications in nuclear energy, astrophysics, and medicine. In this work, we describe the use of ionizing radiation and cysteine-containing elastin-like polypeptides (CnELPs, where n = 2 or 12 cysteines in the polypeptide sequence) for the generation of gold nanoparticles. In the presence of CnELPs, ionizing radiation doses higher than 175 Gy resulted in the formation of maroon-colored gold nanoparticle dispersions, with maximal absorbance at 520 nm, from colorless metal salts. Visible color changes were not observed in any of the control systems, indicating that ionizing radiation, gold salt solution, and C nELPs were all required for nanoparticle formation. The hydrodynamic diameters of nanoparticles, determined using dynamic light scattering, were in the range of 80-150 nm, while TEM imaging indicated the formation of gold cores 10-20 nm in diameter. Interestingly, C2ELPs formed 1-2 nm diameter gold nanoparticles in the absence of radiation. Our results describe a facile method of nanoparticle formation in which nanoparticle size can be tailored based on radiation dose and CnELP type. Further improvements in these polypeptide-based systems can lead to colorimetric detection of ionizing radiation in a variety of applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10166-10173
Number of pages8
Issue number32
StatePublished - Aug 13 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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