Monolayer Fabrication using Electrostatically Mediated Viruses

Technology #11837

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experimental procedure for monolayer assembly of M13 virus on the polyelectrolyte multilayer
Professor Angela Belcher
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, MIT
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Professor Paula Hammond
Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT
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Soo-Kwan Lee
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, MIT
Ki Nam
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, MIT
Juhyun Park
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, MIT
Jifa Qi
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, MIT
Piljin Yoo
Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT
Managed By
Christopher Noble
MIT Technology Licensing Officer - Clean and Renewable Energy
Patent Protection

Self-assembly of macromolecules on multilayered polymer surfaces

US Patent 9,274,108
Spontaneous assembly of viruses on multilayered polymer surfaces
Nature Materials, 5, 234-240 (2006)


The current technology proposes a method for fabricating monolayers, which are single layers of atoms, molecules or cells. Fabricating such monolayers is essential in the development of many technologies, such as fuel cells, LEDs,  supercapacitors, or nanocircuits. For example, a hydrophobic monolayer applied to solar cells can help to keep them clean, while monolayers on cells can enable them to bind to certain types of surfaces.

Problem Addressed

Two main methodologies currently exist for fabricating monolayers — self-assembled monolayers (SAM), or Langmuir-Blodgett monolayers (LBM). Though SAM is used most frequently, the range of materials it can be applied to is limited. LBM, on the other hand, suffers from drawbacks in terms of the stability of the layer produced. The current technology combines the advantages of SAM and LBM, while leveraging electrostatic interactions to improve stability and compatibility, as well as allowing control of layer density and directionality.


The technology describes the use of genetically engineered M13 viruses, in combination with a polyelectrolyte multilayer (PEM). Negatively charged M13 viruses are added to a positively charged PEM. The viruses are highly mobile within the PEM, allowing the viruses to arrange themselves into an ordered monolayer, due to repulsion with other viruses and with the PEM. The eventual density and directionality of the layer can be controlled by modifying the pH of the virus, and flowing the virus through a microfluidic channel.


  • Improved stability of the fabricated monolayer
  • Ability to fabricate a monolayer on a wide range of surfaces (inorganic, polymeric and biological materials)
  • Control of monolayer density and directionality
  • Uniformity of fabrication over a large area