Characterization and kinetics of surface functionalization and binding of biologically and chemically significant molecules

by Steiner, Rachel, Ph.D., COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, 2009, 183 pages; 3393457


The purpose of this project is to investigate intermolecular interactions of organic molecular assemblies. By understanding the structure and physical interactions in these assemblies, we gain insights into practical applications for nanoscale systems built upon these surface structures. It is possible for organic chemists to create many forms of modified organic molecules, functionalizing them with specific reactive end groups. Through surface functionalization, enabling covalent or highly associative binding, it is possible to create ordered molecular assemblies of these molecules. Scientists can study the nature of this structure and the intermolecular interactions through spectroscopic, optical, and scattering experiments.

To understand the self-assembly process in molecular systems, we preliminarily created monolayer films on silica substrates with a variety of organic molecules. In particular, we functionalized silica substrates with hydroxyl groups and covalently bound acid chloride functionalized aromatic compounds, with and without an underlying adhesion layer of 3-aminopropyltriethoxysilane. We characterized the monolayer assemblies with ellipsometry, UV-vis absorption spectroscopy, FTIR spectroscopy, and fluorescence/photoemission spectroscopy, obtaining a quantitative measure of the molecular surface coverage.

In order to understand the nature of these molecular assemblies, we also pursued an in-depth kinetic study to control and optimize the monolayer formation process. Through use of UV-vis spectroscopy, we determined that the monolayer formation can best be modeled with diffusion-limited Langmuir kinetics. Specifically, we concluded that for anthracene acid chloride in dichloromethane the average diffusion coefficient was 1.6×10-7 cm2/sec. Additionally, we find we are able to achieve surface coverages of approximately 2×1014 molecules/cm2.

Having established the ability to create ordered molecular assemblies, through surface functionalization, enabling covalent or highly associative binding, we continued to explore the field of molecular assemblies by studying the binding and structure of molecules to carbon nanostructures. Previous studies have shown that alkyl side chains and aromatic compounds, such as pyrene, will bind non-covalently to the sidewalls of carbon nanotubes through π-π interactions. We explored functionalization of carbon nanotubes and graphene by using microscopy to examine the adsorption of biomolecules onto nanotube sidewalls and graphene.

AdvisersJames Yardley; Colin Nuckolls
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsMaterials science
Publication Number3393457

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