Charge reversal of the rodlike colloidal fd virus through surface chemical modification.
ABSTRACT There is increasing interest in the use of viruses as model systems for fundamental research and as templates for nanomaterials. In this work, the rodlike fd virus was subjected to chemical modifications targeting different solvent-exposed functional groups in order to tune its surface properties, especially reversing the surface charge from negative to positive. The carboxyl groups of fd were coupled with different kinds of organic amines by carbodiimide chemistry, resulting in modified viruses that are positively charged over a wide range of pH. Care was taken to minimize intervirus cross linking, which often occurs because of such modifications. The surface amino groups were also grafted with poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) end-functionalized with an active succinimidyl ester in order to introduce a steric stabilization effect. By combining charge reversal with PEG grafting, a reversible attraction between positively and negatively charged PEG-grafted fd viruses could be realized, which was tuned by the ionic strength of the solution. In addition, a charge-reversed fd virus forms only a pure nematic phase in contrast to the cholesteric phase of the wild type. These modified viruses might be used as model systems in soft condensed matter physics, for example, in the study of polyelectrolyte complexes or lyotropic liquid-crystalline phase behavior.