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Structural insights into magnetic clusters grown inside virus capsids

Jaafar, M.; Aljabali, A. A. A.; Berlanga, I.; Mas-Ballesté, R.; Saxena, P.; Warren, S.; Lomonossoff, G. P.; Evans, D. J.; de Pablo, P. J.


M. Jaafar

A. A. A. Aljabali

I. Berlanga

R. Mas-Ballesté

P. Saxena

S. Warren

G. P. Lomonossoff

D. J. Evans

P. J. de Pablo


Magnetic nanoparticles have multiple applications in materials science. In particular, virus capsids have been suggested as promising templates for building up nanometric-sized magnetic clusters by taking advantage of their inner cavity as a nanoreactor. In this study we investigate the magnetization of individual cobalt-filled cowpea mosaic virus empty virus-like particles using atomic force microscopy. We also combine the analysis of the effects of dehydration on the structure of virus particles with a comparison of their magnetic signal to that provided by commercially available magnetic nanoparticles of similar size. These two approaches allow the evaluation of the structure of the metallic cluster grown inside the virus capsid. We conclude that, rather than forming solid clusters, cobalt inside viruses forms a discontinuous structure that does not completely fill the virus cavity and reaches about 10% of its volume.


Jaafar, M., Aljabali, A. A. A., Berlanga, I., Mas-Ballesté, R., Saxena, P., Warren, S., …de Pablo, P. J. (2014). Structural insights into magnetic clusters grown inside virus capsids. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 6(23), 20936-20942.

Acceptance Date Nov 18, 2014
Online Publication Date Nov 26, 2014
Publication Date Dec 10, 2014
Deposit Date Apr 17, 2015
Publicly Available Date Apr 17, 2015
Journal ACS applied materials & interfaces
Print ISSN 1944-8244
Electronic ISSN 1944-8252
Publisher American Chemical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 6
Issue 23
Pages 20936-20942
Keywords Magnetic nanoparticles; Nanoreactors; Protein cages; Virus capsid; Magnetic force microscopy
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of a Published Work that appeared in final form in ACS applied materials & interfaces, copyright © American Chemical Society after peer review and technical editing by the publisher. To access the final edited and published work see


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