A series of amyloidogenic peptides based on the sequence KFFEAAAKKFFE template the silica precursor, tetraethyl orthosilicate to form silica-nanowires containing a cross-β peptide core.
Investigation of the stability of these fibres reveals that the silica layers protect the silica-nanowires allowing them to maintain their shape and physical and chemical properties after incubation with organic solvents such as 2-propanol, ethanol, and acetonitrile, as well as in a strong acidic solution at pH 1.5. Furthermore, these nanowires were thermally stable in an aqueous solution when heated up to 70 °C, and upon autoclaving. They also preserved their conformation following incubation up to 4 weeks under these harsh conditions, and showed exceptionally high physical stability up to 1000 °C after ageing for 12 months. We show that they maintain their β-sheet peptide core even after harsh treatment by confirming the β-sheet content using Fourier transform infrared spectra. The silica nanowires show significantly higher chemical and thermal stability compared to the unsiliconised fibrils.
The notable chemical and thermal stability of these silica nanowires points to their potential for use in microelectromechanics processes or fabrication for nanotechnological devices.