Enhanced Fluorescence for Bioassembly by Environment-Switching Doping of Metal Ions

Kai Tao, Yu Chen, Asuka A. Orr, Zhen Tian, Pandeeswar Makam, Sharon Gilead, Mingsu Si, Sigal Rencus-Lazar, Songnan Qu, Mingjun Zhang, Phanourios Tamamis*, Ehud Gazit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The self-assembly of cyclodipeptides composed of natural aromatic amino acids into supramolecular structures of diverse morphologies with intrinsic emissions in the visible light region is demonstrated. The assembly process can be halted at the initial oligomerization by coordination with zinc ions, with the most prominent effect observed for cyclo-dihistidine (cyclo-HH). This process is mediated by attracting and pulling of the metal ions from the solvent into the peptide environment, rather than by direct interaction in the solvent as commonly accepted, thus forming an “environment-switching” doping mechanism. The doping induces a change of cyclo-HH molecular configurations and leads to the formation of pseudo “core/shell” clusters, comprising peptides and zinc ions organized in ordered conformations partially surrounded by relatively amorphous layers, thus significantly enhancing the emissions and allowing the application of the assemblies for ecofriendly color-converted light emitting diodes. These findings shed light into the very initial coordination procedure and elucidate an alternative mechanism of metal ions doping on biomolecules, thus presenting a promising avenue for integration of the bioorganic world and the optoelectronic field.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1909614
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • aromatic cyclodipeptides
  • bioinspired LEDs
  • metal ion doping
  • supramolecular fluorescence
  • very initial oligomerization


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