Significant challenges exist in assembling and interconnecting the building blocks of a nanoscale device and being able to electronically address or measure responses at the molecular level. Here we demonstrate the usefulness of engineered proteins as scaffolds for bottom-up self-assembly for building nanoscale devices out of multiple components. Using genetically engineered cowpea mosaic virus, modified to express cysteine residues on the capsid exterior, gold nanoparticles were attached to the viral scaffold in a specific predetermined pattern to produce specific interparticle distances. The nanoparticles were then interconnected using thiol-terminated conjugated organic molecules, resulting in a three-dimensional network. Network properties were engineered by using molecular components with different I-V characteristics. Networks consisting of molecular wires alone were compared with networks containing voltage controlled molecular switches with two stable conductance states. Using such bistable molecules enabled the formation of switchable molecular networks that could be used in nanoscale memory circuits.
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