Enzymatically-controlled biomimetic synthesis of titania/protein hybrid thin films

L. A. Bawazer, J. Ihli, M. A. Levenstein, L. J.C. Jeuken, F. C. Meldrum, D. G.G. McMillan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Although it is widely recognised that enzymes play a significant role in sculpting complex silica skeletons in marine sponges, the potential for exploiting enzymes in materials synthesis has not yet been fully harnessed. In this work we show that the digestive enzyme papain can self-assemble into monolayers on oxide surfaces, where they then drive the formation of crystalline titanium dioxide nanoparticles. This dual functionality of thin film formation and mineralization promotion has the potential to enable the construction of hierarchical inorganic/organic structures in the form of continuous amorphous titania/protein films which can be refined to 93% anatase post annealing. Additional control over the film thickness is afforded by layer-by-layer processing using a simple dip-coating approach. Papain's TiO2-mineralizing activity displays complex kinetics that deviates from the native Michaelis-Menten kinetic activity, yet deactivation studies demonstrate that this activity relies upon residues that are essential for catalytic site function. These parameters provide unique insight into enzymatic biomineralization, allowing a flexible route to achieving bioengineered titania heterostructures, and potentially providing a green-chemistry solution to photovoltaic cell development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3979-3988
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Materials Chemistry B
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


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