Tuning DNA-amphiphile condensate architecture with strongly binding counterions.
ABSTRACT: Electrostatic self-assembly of colloidal and nanoparticles has attracted a lot of attention in recent years, since it offers the possibility of producing novel crystalline structures that have the potential to be used as advanced materials for photonic and other applications. The stoichiometry of these crystals is not constrained by charge neutrality of the two types of particles due to the presence of counterions, and hence a variety of three-dimensional structures have been observed depending on the relative sizes of the particles and their charge. Here we report structural polymorphism of two-dimensional crystals of oppositely charged linear macroions, namely DNA and self-assembled cylindrical micelles of cationic amphiphiles. Our system differs from those studied earlier in terms of the presence of a strongly binding counterion that competes with DNA to bind to the micelle. The presence of these counterions leads to novel structures of these crystals, such as a square lattice and a ?3 x ?3 superlattice of an underlying hexagonal lattice, determined from a detailed analysis of the small-angle diffraction data. These lower-dimensional equilibrium systems can play an important role in developing a deeper theoretical understanding of the stability of crystals of oppositely charged particles. Further, it should be possible to use the same design principles to fabricate structures on a longer length-scale by an appropriate choice of the two macroions.
Project description:Mechanically flexible, easy-to-process, and environmentally benign materials capable of current rectification are interesting alternatives to "hard" silicon-based devices. Among these materials are metallic/charged-organic nanoparticles in which electronic currents though metal cores are modulated by the gradients of counterions surrounding the organic ligands. Although layers of oppositely charged particles can respond to both electronic and chemical signals and can function even under significant mechanical deformation, the rectification ratios of these "chemoelectronic" elements have been, so far, low. This work shows that significantly steeper counterion gradients and significantly higher rectification ratios can be achieved with nanoparticles of only one polarity but in contact with a porous electrode serving as a counterion "sink." These composite structures act as rectifiers even at radio frequencies, providing a new means of interfacing counterions' dynamics with high-frequency electronic currents.
Project description:The repulsive interaction between oppositely charged macroions is investigated using Grand Canonical Monte Carlo simulations of an unrestricted primitive model, including the effect of inhomogeneous surface charge and its density, the depth of surface charge, the cation size, and the dielectric permittivity of solvent and macroions, and their contrast. The origin of the repulsion is a combination of osmotic pressure and ionic screening resulting from excess salt between the macroions. The excess charge over-reduces the electrostatic attraction between macroions and raises the entropic repulsion. The magnitude of the repulsion increases when the dielectric constant of the solvent is lowered (below that of water) and/or the surface charge density is increased, in good agreement with experiment. Smaller size of surface charge and the cation, their discreteness and mobility are other factors that enhance the repulsion and charge inversion phenomenons.
Project description:Despite their importance in self-assembly processes, the influence of charged counterions on the geometry of self-assembled organic monolayers and their direct localisation within the monolayers has been given little attention. Recently, various examples of self-assembled monolayers composed of charged molecules on surfaces have been reported, but no effort has been made to prove the presence of counterions within the monolayer. Here we show that visualisation and exact localisation of counterions within self-assembled monolayers can be achieved with scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM). The presence of charges on the studied shape-persistent macrocycles is shown to have a profound effect on the self-assembly process at the liquid-solid interface. Furthermore, preferential adsorption was observed for the uncharged analogue of the macrocycle on a surface.
Project description:Colloidal particles with strongly attractive interactions snap on contact and form permanent, but disordered aggregates. In contrast, AC electric fields allow directional assembly of chains or crystals from repulsive particles by dielectrophoresis (DEP), but these structures fall apart once the field is switched off. We demonstrate how well-organized, permanent clusters and chains of micron-sized particles can be assembled by applying DEP to mixtures of oppositely charged microspheres. We found that the length of the formed chains depends on size ratio as well as the number ratio of the two species, and formulated a statistical model for this assembly mechanism, which is in excellent agreement with the experimental results. The assembly rules resulting from this study form a basis for tailoring new classes of permanent supracolloidal clusters and gels.
Project description:The stability of colloidal suspensions is crucial in a wide variety of processes, including the fabrication of photonic materials and scaffolds for biological assemblies. The ionic strength of the electrolyte that suspends charged colloids is widely used to control the physical properties of colloidal suspensions. The extensively used two-body Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek (DLVO) approach allows for a quantitative analysis of the effective electrostatic forces between colloidal particles. DLVO relates the ionic double layers, which enclose the particles, to their effective electrostatic repulsion. Nevertheless, the double layer is distorted at high macroion volume fractions. Therefore, DLVO cannot describe the many-body effects that arise in concentrated suspensions. We show that this problem can be largely resolved by identifying effective point charges for the macroions using cell theory. This extrapolated point charge (EPC) method assigns effective point charges in a consistent way, taking into account the excluded volume of highly charged macroions at any concentration, and thereby naturally accounting for high volume fractions in both salt-free and added-salt conditions. We provide an analytical expression for the effective pair potential and validate the EPC method by comparing molecular dynamics simulations of macroions and monovalent microions that interact via Coulombic potentials to simulations of macroions interacting via the derived EPC effective potential. The simulations reproduce the macroion-macroion spatial correlation and the virial pressure obtained with the EPC model. Our findings provide a route to relate the physical properties such as pressure in systems of screened Coulomb particles to experimental measurements.
Project description:Various soluble hydrophilic macroions can self-assemble into hollow, spherical, monolayered supramolecular "blackberry"-type structures, despite their like-charged nature. However, how the 3-D symmetrical macroions prefer to form 2-D monolayers in bulk solution, especially for the highly symmetrical "Keplerate" polyoxometalates and functionalized C60 macroions has been a mystery. Through molecular dynamics simulations, using a model specifically designed for macroions in solution, the mechanism of this intriguing symmetry-breaking process is found to be related to the apparently asymmetric charge distribution on the surface of macroions in the equatorial belt area (the area which can be effectively involved in the counterion-mediated attraction). As a result, the electric field lines around macroions during the self-assembly process clearly show that the symmetry-breaking happens at the dimer level effectively defining the plane of the self-assembly. These findings are expected to contribute to our fundamental knowledge of complex solution systems that are found in many fields from materials science to biological phenomena.
Project description:Coarse-grained simulation approach is applied to provide a general understanding of various soluble, hydrophilic macroionic solutions, especially the strong attractions among the like-charged soluble macroions and the consequent spontaneous, reversible formation of blackberry structures with tunable sizes. This model captures essential molecular details of the macroions and their interactions in polar solvents. Results using this model provide consistent conclusions to the experimental observations, from the nature of the attractive force among macroions (counterion-mediated attraction), to the blackberry formation mechanism. The conclusions can be applied to various macroionic solutions from inorganic molecular clusters to dendrimers and biomacromolecules.
Project description:Self-assembly is a convenient process to arrange complex biomolecules into large hierarchically ordered structures. Electrostatic attraction between the building blocks is a particularly interesting driving force for the assembly process, as it is easily tunable and reversible. Large biomolecules with high surface charge density, such as proteins and protein cages, are very promising building blocks due to their uniform size and shape. Assemblies of functional molecules with well-defined nanostructures have wide-ranging applications but are difficult to produce precisely by synthetic methods. Furthermore, obtaining highly ordered structures is an important prerequisite for X-ray structure analysis. Here we show how negatively charged ferritin and viral protein cages can adopt specific cocrystal structures with supercharged cationic polypeptides (SUPs, K72) and their recombinant fusions with green fluorescent protein (GFP-K72). The cage structures and recombinant proteins self-assemble in aqueous solution to large ordered structures, where the structure morphology and size are controlled by the ratio of oppositely charged building blocks and the electrolyte concentration. Both ferritin and viral cages form cocrystals with face centered cubic structure and lattice constants of 14.0 and 28.5 nm, respectively. The crystals are porous and the cationic recombinant proteins occupy the voids between the cages. Such systems resemble naturally occurring occlusion bodies and may serve as protecting agents as well as aid the structure determination of biomolecules by X-ray scattering.
Project description:Organic semiconductor materials composed of ??? stacking aromatic compounds have been under intense investigation for their potential uses in flexible electronics and other advanced technologies. Herein we report a new family of seven ??? stacking compounds of silver(I) bis-N-(4-pyridyl) benzamide with varying counterions, namely [Ag(NPBA)2]X, where NPBA is N-(4-pyridyl) benzamine, X = NO?- (1), ClO?- (2), CF?SO?- (3), PF?- (4), BF?- (5), CH?PhSO?- (6), and PhSO?- (7), which form extended ?-? stacking networks in one-dimensional (1D), 2D and 3D directions in the crystalline solid-state via the phenyl moiety, with average inter-ring distances of 3.823 Å. Interestingly, the counterions that contain ??? stacking-capable groups, such as in 6 and 7, can induce the formation of mesomorphic phases at 130 °C in dimethylformamide (DMF), and can generate highly branched networks at the mesoscale. Atomic force microscopy studies showed that 2D interconnected fibers form right after nucleation, and they extend from ~30 nm in diameter grow to reach the micron scale, which suggests that it may be possible to stop the process in order to obtain nanofibers. Differential scanning calorimetry studies showed no remarkable thermal behavior in the complexes in the solid state, which suggests that the mesomorphic phases originate from the mechanisms that occur in the DMF solution at high temperatures. An all-electron level simulation of the band gaps using NRLMOL (Naval Research Laboratory Molecular Research Library) on the crystals gave 3.25 eV for (1), 3.68 eV for (2), 1.48 eV for (3), 5.08 eV for (4), 1.53 eV for (5), and 3.55 eV for (6). Mesomorphic behavior in materials containing ??? stacking aromatic interactions that also exhibit low-band gap properties may pave the way to a new generation of highly branched organic semiconductors.
Project description:Self-assembly--the spontaneous organization of microscopic units into well-defined mesoscopic structures--is a fundamental mechanism for a broad variety of nanotechnology applications in material science. The central role played by the anisotropy resulting from asymmetric shapes of the units and/or well-defined bonding sites on the particle surface has been widely investigated, highlighting the importance of properly designing the constituent entities in order to control the resulting mesoscopic structures. Anisotropy driven self-assembly can also result from the multipolar interactions characterizing many naturally occurring systems, such as proteins and viral capsids, as well as experimentally synthesized colloidal particles. Heterogeneously charged particles represent a class of multipolar units that are characterized by a competitive interplay between anisotropic attractive and repulsive interactions, due to the repulsion/attraction between charged-like/oppositely charged regions on the particle surface. In the present work, axially symmetric quadrupolar colloids are considered in a confined planar geometry; the role of both the overall particle charge and the patch extension as well as the effect of the substrate charge are studied in thermodynamic conditions such that the formation of extended structures is favored. A general tendency to form quasi-two-dimensional aggregates where particles align their symmetry axes within the plane is observed; among these planar self-assembled scenarios, a clear distinction between the formation of microcrystalline gels--branched networks consisting of purely crystalline domains--as opposed to disordered aggregates can be observed based on the specific features of the particle-particle interaction. Additionally, the possible competition of interparticle and particle-substrate interactions affects the size and the internal structure of the aggregates and can possibly inhibit the aggregation process.