Contact Mechanics of a Small Icosahedral Virus

Zeng C, Hernando-PĂ©rez M, Dragnea B, Ma X, van der Schoot P, Zandi R.
Publication Date
July 2017

A virus binding to a surface causes stress of the virus cage near the contact area. Here, we investigate the potential role of substrate-induced structural perturbation in the mechanical response of virus particles to adsorption. This is particularly relevant to the broad category of viruses stabilized by weak noncovalent interactions. We utilize atomic force microscopy to measure height distributions of the brome mosaic virus upon adsorption from solution on atomically flat substrates and present a continuum model that captures our observations and provides estimates of elastic properties and of the interfacial energy of the virus, without recourse to indentation.


Zeng C, Hernando-Pérez M, Dragnea B, Ma X, van der Schoot P, Zandi R.
Phys Rev Lett. 2017 Jul 21;119(3):038102. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.119.038102. Epub 2017 Jul 20.