Epitaxially guided assembly of collagen layers on mica surfaces. Academic Article uri icon


  • Ordered assembly of collagen molecules on flat substrates has potential for various applications and serves as a model system for studying the assembly process. While previous studies demonstrated self-assembly of collagen on muscovite mica into highly ordered layers, the mechanism by which different conditions affect the resulting morphology remains to be elucidated. Using atomic force microscopy, we follow the assembly of collagen on muscovite mica at a concentration lower than the critical fibrillogenesis concentration in bulk. Initially, individual collagen molecules adsorb to mica and subsequently nucleate into fibrils possessing the 67 nm D-periodic bands. Emergence of fibrils aligned in parallel despite large interfibril distances agrees with an alignment mechanism guided by the underlying mica. The epitaxial growth was further confirmed by the formation of novel triangular networks of collagen fibrils on phlogopite mica, whose surface lattice is known to have a hexagonal symmetry, whereas the more widely used muscovite does not. Comparing collagen assembly on the two types of mica at different potassium concentrations revealed that potassium binds to the negatively charged mica surface and neutralizes it, thereby reducing the binding affinity of collagen and enhancing surface diffusion. These results suggest that collagen assembly on mica follows the surface adsorption, diffusion, nucleation, and growth pathway, where the growth direction is determined at the nucleation step. Comparison with other molecules that assemble similarly on mica supports generality of the proposed assembly mechanism, the knowledge of which will be useful for controlling the resulting surface morphologies.

published proceedings

  • Langmuir

altmetric score

  • 2

author list (cited authors)

  • Leow, W. W., & Hwang, W.

citation count

  • 49

complete list of authors

  • Leow, Wee Wen||Hwang, Wonmuk

publication date

  • September 2011