Electric field assisted self-assembly of viruses into colored thin films

James J. Tronolone, Michael Orrill, Wonbin Song, Hyun Soo Kim, Byung Yang Lee, Saniya Leblanc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Filamentous viruses called M13 bacteriophages are promising materials for devices with thin film coatings because phages are functionalizable, and they can self-assemble into smectic helicoidal nanofilament structures. However, the existing “pulling” approach to align the nanofilaments is slow and limits potential commercialization of this technology. This study uses an applied electric field to rapidly align the nanostructures in a fixed droplet. The electric field reduces pinning of the three-phase contact line, allowing it to recede at a constant rate. Atomic force microscopy reveals that the resulting aligned structures resemble those produced via the pulling method. The field-assisted alignment results in concentric color bands quantified with image analysis of red, green, and blue line profiles. The alignment technique shown here could reduce self-assembly time from hours to minutes and lend itself to scalable manufacturing techniques such as inkjet printing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1310
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Sept


  • Colorimetric film
  • Electric field
  • Electrowetting
  • M13 bacteriophage
  • Nanobiomaterial
  • Self-assembly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)


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