A molecular biontimetics approach is presented in developing polypeptide-based coatings for inorganic surfaces. In general, inorganic surface-binding polypeptides are genetically engineered using cell surface and phage display technologies. These peptides contain short amino acid sequences, known to bind specifically to selected inorganics. Based on the sequences of the polypeptides that were recently selected by this (e.g. An, Pt and Pd) and other groups, one may find certain specificity, e.g. hydrophobic and hydroxyl amino acids, common among noble metal-binders. We show that an engineered gold-binding protein self-assembles onto gold surface forming monomolecular and highly structured crystallographic domains. The protein-based molecular films could provide robust templates for potential utility in practical nanotechnological and bionanotechnological applications. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.