Material science is an interdisciplinary area of research, which in part, designs and characterizes new materials. Research is concerned with synthesis, structure, properties, and performance of materials. Discoveries in materials science have significant impact on future technologies, especially in nano-scale applications where the physical properties of nanomaterials are significantly different than their bulk counterparts. The work presented here discusses the use of ferritin, a hollow sphere-like biomolecule, which forms metal oxo-hydride nanoparticles inside its protein shell for uses as a bio-inorganic material.Ferritin is capable of forming and sequestering 8 nm metal-oxide nanoparticles within its 2 nm thick protein shell. A variety of metal-oxide nanoparticles have been synthesized inside ferritin. The work herein focuses on three distinct areas:1) Ferritin's light harvesting properties: namely band gaps. Discrepancies in the band gap energies for ferritin's native ferrihydrite mineral and non-native minerals have been previously reported. Through the use of optical absorption spectroscopy, I resolved the types of band gaps as well as the energy of these band gaps. I show that metal oxides in ferritin are indirect band gap semiconductors which also contain a direct transition. Modifications to the ferrihydrite mineral's band gaps are measured as a result of co-depositing anions into ferritin during iron loading. I demonstrate that these band gaps can be used to photocatalytically reduce gold ions in solution with titanium oxide nanoparticles in ferritin. 2) A new method for manganese mineral synthesis inside ferritin: Comproportionation between permanganate and Mn(II) forms new manganese oxide minerals inside ferritin that are different than traditional manganese oxide mineral synthesis. This reaction creates a MnO2, Mn2O3, or Mn3O4 mineral inside ferritin, depending on the synthesis conditions. 3) Ferritin as an energetic material: Ferritin is capable of sequestering various metals and anions into its interior. Perchlorate, an energetic anion, is sequestered through a co-deposition process during iron loading and is tested with energetic binding materials. Peroxide, which can be used as an oxidant, is also shown to be sequestered within apoferritin and combined with an aluminum based fuel for solid rocket propellants.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Chemistry and Biochemistry



Date Submitted


Document Type





ferritin, photovoltaic, photochemistry, photocatalyst, gold nanoparticles, ferrihydrite, band gap, optical absorption spectroscopy, metal-oxide, nanoparticle, bio-inorganic material, biomaterial



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Chemistry Commons