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1.  Automated scanning probe lithography with n-alkanethiol self assembled monolayers on Au(111): Application for teaching undergraduate laboratories 
Journal of Laboratory Automation  2011;16(2):112-125.
Controllers for scanning probe instruments can be programmed for automated lithography to generate desired surface arrangements of nanopatterns of organic thin films, such as n-alkanethiol self-assembled monolayers (SAMs). In this report, atomic force microscopy (AFM) methods of lithography known as nanoshaving and nanografting are used to write nanopatterns within organic thin films. Commercial instruments provide software to control the length, direction, speed, and applied force of the scanning motion of the tip. For nanoshaving, higher forces are applied to an AFM tip to selectively remove regions of the matrix monolayer, exposing bare areas of the gold substrate. Nanografting is accomplished by force-induced displacement of molecules of a matrix SAM, followed immediately by the surface self-assembly of n-alkanethiol molecules from solution. Advancements in AFM automation enable rapid protocols for nanolithography, which can be accomplished within the tight time restraints of undergraduate laboratories. Example experiments with scanning probe lithography (SPL) will be described in this report that were accomplished by undergraduate students during laboratory course activities and research internships in the chemistry department of Louisiana State University. Students were introduced to principles of surface analysis and gained “hands-on” experience with nanoscale chemistry.
PMCID: PMC3072817  PMID: 21483651
2.  Structure−Activity Relationships in Peptide Modulators of β-Amyloid Protein Aggregation: Variation in α,α-Disubstitution Results in Altered Aggregate Size and Morphology 
ACS Chemical Neuroscience  2010;1(9):608-626.
Neuronal cytotoxicity observed in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is linked to the aggregation of β-amyloid peptide (Aβ) into toxic forms. Increasing evidence points to oligomeric materials as the neurotoxic species, not Aβ fibrils; disruption or inhibition of Aβ self-assembly into oligomeric or fibrillar forms remains a viable therapeutic strategy to reduce Aβ neurotoxicity. We describe the synthesis and characterization of amyloid aggregation mitigating peptides (AAMPs) whose structure is based on the Aβ “hydrophobic core” Aβ17−20, with α,α-disubstituted amino acids (ααAAs) added into this core as potential disrupting agents of fibril self-assembly. The number, positional distribution, and side-chain functionality of ααAAs incorporated into the AAMP sequence were found to influence the resultant aggregate morphology as indicated by ex situ experiments using atomic force microscopy (AFM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). For instance, AAMP-5, incorporating a sterically hindered ααAA with a diisobutyl side chain in the core sequence, disrupted Aβ1−40 fibril formation. However, AAMP-6, with a less sterically hindered ααAA with a dipropyl side chain, altered fibril morphology, producing shorter and larger sized fibrils (compared with those of Aβ1−40). Remarkably, ααAA-AAMPs caused disassembly of existing Aβ fibrils to produce either spherical aggregates or protofibrillar structures, suggesting the existence of equilibrium between fibrils and prefibrillar structures.
PMCID: PMC3368689  PMID: 22778850
β-Amyloid; Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid aggregation mitigating peptides; α,α-disubstituted amino acids; fibrils; spherical aggregates
3.  Spatially selective surface platforms for binding fibrinogen prepared by particle lithography with organosilanes 
Interface Focus  2013;3(3):20120102.
We introduce an approach based on particle lithography to prepare spatially selective surface platforms of organosilanes that are suitable for nanoscale studies of protein binding. Particle lithography was applied for patterning fibrinogen, a plasma protein that has a major role in the clotting cascade for blood coagulation and wound healing. Surface nanopatterns of mercaptosilanes were designed as sites for the attachment of fibrinogen within a protein-resistant matrix of 2-[methoxy(polyethyleneoxy)propyl] trichlorosilane (PEG-silane). Preparing site-selective surfaces was problematic in our studies, because of the self-reactive properties of PEG-organosilanes. Certain organosilanes presenting hydroxyl head groups will cross react to form mixed surface multi-layers. We developed a clever strategy with particle lithography using masks of silica mesospheres to protect small, discrete regions of the surface from cross reactions. Images acquired with atomic force microscopy (AFM) disclose that fibrinogen attached primarily to the surface areas presenting thiol head groups, which were surrounded by PEG-silane. The activity for binding anti-fibrinogen was further evaluated using ex situ AFM studies, confirming that after immobilization the fibrinogen nanopatterns retained capacity for binding immunoglobulin G. Studies with AFM provide advantages of achieving nanoscale resolution for detecting surface changes during steps of biochemical surface reactions, without requiring chemical modification of proteins or fluorescent labels.
PMCID: PMC3638418  PMID: 24427541
atomic force microscopy; fibrinogen; particle lithography; organosilane; self-assembled monolayers; biosensors
4.  Surface assembly and nanofabrication of 1,1,1-tris(mercaptomethyl)heptadecane on Au(111) studied with time-lapse atomic force microscopy 
The solution self-assembly of multidentate organothiols onto Au(111) was studied in situ using scanning probe nanolithography and time-lapse atomic force microscopy (AFM). Self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) prepared from dilute solutions of multidentate thiols were found to assemble slowly, requiring more than six hours to generate films. A clean gold substrate was first imaged in ethanolic media using liquid AFM. Next, a 0.01 mM solution of multidentate thiol was injected into the liquid cell. As time progressed, molecular-level details of the surface changes at different time intervals were captured by successive AFM images. Scanning probe based nanofabrication was accomplished using protocols of nanografting and nanoshaving with n-alkanethiols and a tridentate molecule, 1,1,1-tris(mercaptomethyl)heptadecane (TMMH). Nanografted patterns of TMMH could be inscribed within n-alkanethiol SAMs; however, the molecular packing of the nanopatterns was less homogeneous compared to nanopatterns produced with monothiolates. The multidentate molecules have a more complex assembly pathway than monothiol counterparts, mediated by sequential steps of forming S–Au bonds to the substrate.
PMCID: PMC3896263  PMID: 24455459
liquid AFM; multidentate; nanografting; nanolithography; self-assembly
5.  Self-assembly of octadecyltrichlorosilane: Surface structures formed using different protocols of particle lithography 
Particle lithography offers generic capabilities for the high-throughput fabrication of nanopatterns from organosilane self-assembled monolayers, which offers the opportunity to study surface-based chemical reactions at the molecular level. Nanopatterns of octadecyltrichlorosilane (OTS) were prepared on surfaces of Si(111) using designed protocols of particle lithography combined with either vapor deposition, immersion, or contact printing. Changing the physical approaches for applying molecules to masked surfaces produced OTS nanostructures with different shapes and heights. Ring nanostructures, nanodots and uncovered pores of OTS were prepared using three protocols, with OTS surface coverage ranging from 10% to 85%. Thickness measurements from AFM cursor profiles were used to evaluate the orientation and density of the OTS nanostructures. Differences in the thickness and morphology of the OTS nanostructures are disclosed based on atomic force microscopy (AFM) images. Images of OTS nanostructures prepared on Si(111) that were generated by the different approaches provide insight into the self-assembly mechanism of OTS, and particularly into the role of water and solvents in hydrolysis and silanation.
PMCID: PMC3304319  PMID: 22428102
atomic force microscopy; nanopatterning; nanostructures; octadecyltrichlorosilane; particle lithography; self-assembled monolayer; self-assembly
6.  Syntheses and Photodynamic Activity of Pegylated Cationic Zn(II)-Phthalocyanines in HEp2 Cells 
Theranostics  2012;2(9):850-870.
Di-cationic Zn(II)-phthalocyanines (ZnPcs) are promising photosensitizers for the photodynamic therapy (PDT) of cancers and for photoinactivation of viruses and bacteria. Pegylation of photosensitizers in general enhances their water-solubility and tumor cell accumulation. A series of pegylated di-cationic ZnPcs were synthesized from conjugation of a low molecular weight PEG group to a pre-formed Pc macrocycle, or by mixed condensation involving a pegylated phthalonitrile. All pegylated ZnPcs were highly soluble in polar organic solvents but were insoluble in water; they have intense Q absorptions centered at 680 nm and fluorescence quantum yields of ca. 0.2 in DMF. The non-pegylated di-cationic ZnPc 6a formed large aggregates, which were visualized by atomic force microscopy. The cytotoxicity, cellular uptake and subcellular distribution of all cationic ZnPcs were investigated in human carcinoma HEp2 cells. The most phototoxic compounds were found to be the α-substituted Pcs. Among these, Pcs 4a and 16a were the most effective (IC50 ca. 10 μM at 1.5 J/cm2), in part due to the presence of a PEG group and the two positive charges in close proximity (separated by an ethylene group) in these macrocycles. The β-substituted ZcPcs 6b and 4b accumulated the most within HEp2 cells but had low photocytoxicity (IC50 > 100 μM at 1.5 J/cm2), possibly as a result of their lower electron density of the ring and more extended conformations compared with the α-substituted Pcs. The results show that the charge distribution about the Pc macrocycle and the intracellular localization of the cationic ZnPcs mainly determine their photodynamic activity.
PMCID: PMC3475216  PMID: 23082098
phthalocyanine; PDT; pegylation; cationic photosensitizer
7.  Effects of Peptides Derived from Terminal Modifications of the Aβ Central Hydrophobic Core on Aβ Fibrillization 
ACS Chemical Neuroscience  2010;1(10):661-678.
Considerable research effort has focused on the discovery of mitigators that block the toxicity of the β-amyloid peptide (Aβ) by targeting a specific step involved in Aβ fibrillogenesis and subsequent aggregation. Given that aggregation intermediates are hypothesized to be responsible for Aβ toxicity, such compounds could likely prevent or mitigate aggregation, or alternatively cause further association of toxic oligomers into larger nontoxic aggregates. Herein we investigate the effect of modifications of the KLVFF hydrophobic core of Aβ by replacing N- and C-terminal groups with various polar moieties. Several of these terminal modifications were found to disrupt the formation of amyloid fibrils and in some cases induced the disassembly of preformed fibrils. Significantly, mitigators that incorporate MiniPEG polar groups were found to be effective against Aβ1−40 fibrilligonesis. Previously, we have shown that mitigators incorporating alpha,alpha-disubstituted amino acids (ααAAs) were effective in disrupting fibril formation as well as inducing fibril disassembly. In this work, we further disclose that the number of polar residues (six) and ααAAs (three) in the original mitigator can be reduced without dramatically changing the ability to disrupt Aβ1−40 fibrillization in vitro.
PMCID: PMC3368634  PMID: 22778807
Amyloid peptide (Aβ); fibrils; spherical structures; mitigators; assembly; disassembly
8.  Lysine-Based Zwitterionic Molecular Micelle for Simultaneous Separation of Acidic and Basic Proteins using Open Tubular Capillary Electrochromatography 
Analytical chemistry  2010;82(10):3997-4005.
In this work, a zwitterionic molecular micelle, poly-ε-sodium-undecanoyl lysinate (poly-ε-SUK), was synthesized and employed as a coating in open tubular capillary electrochromatography (OT-CEC) for protein separation. The zwitterionic poly-ε-SUK containing both carboxylic acid and amine groups can be either protonated or deprotonated depending on the pH of the background electrolyte; therefore, either an overall positively or negatively charged coating can be achieved. This zwitterionic coating allows protein separations in either normal or reverse polarity mode depending on the pH of the background electrolyte. The protein mixtures contained 4 basic proteins (lysozyme, cytochrome c, α-chymotrypsinogen A, and ribonuclease A) and 6 acidic proteins (myoglobin, β-lactoglobulin A, β-lactoglobulin B, α-lactalbumin, and albumin). Protein separations were optimized specifically for acidic (reverse mode) and basic (normal mode) pH values. Varying the polymer thickness by changing the polymer and salt concentration had a great influence on protein resolution, while all peaks were also baseline resolved in both modes using the optimized poly-ε-SUK coating concentration of 0.4%. Proteins in human sera were separated under optimized acidic and basic conditions in order to demonstrate the general utility of this coating. Nanoscale characterizations of the poly-ε-SUK micellar coatings on silicon surfaces were accomplished using atomic force microscopy (AFM), to gain insight into the morphology and thickness of the zwitterionic coating. The thickness of the polymer coating ranged from 0.9–2.9 nm based on local measurements using nanoshaving, an AFM-based method of nanolithography.
PMCID: PMC2902365  PMID: 20420412
protein separation; zwitterionic; molecular micelle; open tubular capillary electrochromatography; human serum; atomic force microscopy; nanoshaving; lysine coating
9.  Electropolymerizable 2,2′-Carboranyldithiophenes. Structure–Property Investigations of the Corresponding Conducting Polymer Films by Electrochemistry, UV–Visible Spectroscopy and Conducting Probe Atomic Force Microscopy 
Macromolecules  2009;42(8):2981-2987.
Carborane-functionalized conducting polymer films have been electrogenerated in dichloromethane from the anodic oxidation of ortho- (1), meta- (3) and para-carborane (4) isomers linked to two 2-thienyl units. The corresponding electrochemical response was characterized by a broad reversible redox system corresponding to the p-doping/undoping of the polythiophene backbone, the formal potential of which increased in the order poly(1) < poly(3) < poly(4), from ca. 0.50 to 1.15 V vs Ag/Ag+ 10−2 M. From further UV–visible spectroscopy analysis, the optical band gap was estimated at 1.8, 2.0 and 2.2 eV for poly(1), poly(3) and poly(4), respectively. The more conjugated and electroconductive character of poly(1) is ascribed to a more planar conformation of the conjugated backbone resulting from an intramolecular β–β′ cyclization reaction in the monomer, consequently yielding a fused conjugated polymer. Molecular modeling calculations using the DFT method support this hypothesis. The surface topography and maps of the conductive domains of the electropolymerized films were evaluated by conducting probe AFM. The three polymers exhibit fairly similar morphological characteristics and a surface roughness of ~2 nm. Current–voltage (I–V) characteristics of conducting AFM tip-carborane polymer–ITO junctions showed that poly(1) had the highest conductivity.
PMCID: PMC3051405  PMID: 21399746
10.  Magnetic and Non-Magnetic Nanoparticles from a Group of Uniform Materials Based on Organic Salts 
ACS nano  2009;3(10):3244-3250.
The size and uniformity of magnetic nanoparticles developed from a Group of Uniform Materials Based on Organic Salts (GUMBOS) were controlled using an in situ ion exchange, water-in-oil (w/o) microemulsion preparation. Most of these nanoGUMBOS are in fact ionic liquids (i.e., melting points less than 100 °C), while others have melting points above the conventional 100 °C demarcation. Simple variations in the reagent concentrations following a w/o approach allowed us to smoothly and predictably vary nanoparticle dimensions across a significant size regime with excellent uniformity. Average sizes of GUMBOS ranging from 14 to 198 nm were achieved by manipulation of the reagent concentration for example. Controllable formation of this new breed of nanoparticles is important for numerous potential applications and will open up interesting new opportunities in drug delivery, magnetic resonance imaging, and protein separations, among other areas.
PMCID: PMC2783657  PMID: 19780529
Nanosynthesis; emulsion; molten salt; ionic liquids; GUMBOS; reverse micelles; magnetic nanoparticles
11.  Polythiophenes Containing In-Chain Cobaltabisdicarbollide Centers 
New cobalt(III) bis(dicarbollide) complexes covalently linked to two 2-oligothienyl units have been synthesized and electropolymerized in acetonitrile electrolyte in order to produce the corresponding polythiophene films containing in-chain metallic centers. The polymer films electrogenerated from the bithienyl (4b) and terthienyl (4c) derivatives display redox processes attributed to the Co(III)/Co(II) couple at ca. −1.1 V vs SCE and to the p-doping/undoping of the expected quaterthienyl and sexithienyl segments at ca. 0.8 V vs SCE. In contrast, the anodic oxidation of the thienyl (4a) derivative leads to passivation of the electrode surface. As the length of the oligothiophene substituents increases, the metallic and dicarbollide cage carbon atoms contributions in the HOMO decrease dramatically so that the highest occupied frontier orbitals of 4b and 4c can be considered as almost purely oligothiophene-based. From further UV–vis spectroscopy analysis, it is demonstrated that the polymer incorporating the sexithienyl segments is more conjugated than that with the quaterthienyl segments as the absorption maximum for the interband π–π* transition was observed at 410 and 448 nm for poly(4b) and poly(4c) respectively. Furthermore, these polymers display a more extended degree of conjugation than the parent oligothiophenes. Such features indicate a significant electronic delocalization through the cobaltabisdicarbollide moiety. Their conducting probe atomic force microscopy characterization indicates that poly(4b) and poly(4c) behave like heavily doped semiconductors rather than pure semiconductors. Mean conductivity values extracted from the current–voltage profiles are 1.4 ×10−4 and 7.5 ×10−4 S cm−1 for poly(4b) and poly(4c), respectively. Such materials are found to be efficient for the electrocatalytic reduction of protons to dihydrogen, as exemplified for poly(4b). The overpotential for hydrogen evolution is significantly decreased by ca. 230 mV with respect to that obtained with the bare electrode (measured for a current density of 1.4 mA cm−2 in the presence of 20 mM HBF4).
PMCID: PMC2919152  PMID: 20356270
conducting polymers; metallopolymers; polythiophenes; carboranes; electropolymerization

Results 1-11 (11)