Neutron reflection and scattering in characterising peptide assemblies

Xuzhi Hu, Mingrui Liao, Ke Ding, Jiqian Wang, Hai Xu, Kai Tao, Feng Zhou, Jian R. Lu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Self-assemblies of de novo designed short peptides at interface and in bulk solution provide potential platforms for developing applications in many medical and technological areas. However, characterising how bioinspired supramolecular nanostructures evolve with dynamic self-assembling processes and respond to different stimuli remains challenging. Neutron scattering technologies including small angle neutron scattering (SANS) and neutron reflection (NR) can be advantageous and complementary to other state-of-the-art techniques in tracing structural changes under different conditions. With more neutron sources now available, SANS and NR are becoming increasingly popular in studying self-assembling processes of diverse peptide and protein systems, but the difficulty in experimental manipulation and data analysis can deter beginners. This review will introduce the basic theory, general experimental setup and data analysis of SANS and NR, followed by provision of their applications in characterising interfacial and solution self-assemblies of representative peptides and proteins. SANS and NR are remarkably effective in determining the morphological features self-assembled short peptides, especially size and shape transitions as a result of either sequence changes or in response to environmental stimuli, demonstrating the unique capability of NR and SANS in unravelling the interactive processes. These examples highlight the potential of NR and SANS in supporting the development of novel short peptides and proteins as biopharmaceutical candidates in the fight against many diseases and infections that share common features of membrane interactive processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103033
JournalAdvances in Colloid and Interface Science
StatePublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Antimicrobial peptides
  • COVID-19
  • Interfacial assembly
  • Nanostructures
  • NR
  • Peptide amphiphiles
  • SANS
  • Self-assembly


Dive into the research topics of 'Neutron reflection and scattering in characterising peptide assemblies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this