Effect of Dipole Orientation in Mixed, Charge-Equilibrated Self-assembled Monolayers on Protein Adsorption and Marine Biofouling

Koc, J. and Schardt, L. and Nolte, K. and Beyer, C. and Eckhard, T. and Schwiderowski, P. and Clarke, J.L. and Finlay, J.A. and Clare, A.S. and Muhler, M. and Laschewsky, A. and Rosenhahn, A.

Volume: 12 Pages: 50953-50961
DOI: 10.1021/acsami.0c11580
Published: 2020

While zwitterionic interfaces are known for their excellent low-fouling properties, the underlying molecular principles are still under debate. In particular, the role of the zwitterion orientation at the interface has been discussed recently. For elucidation of the effect of this parameter, self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) on gold were prepared from stoichiometric mixtures of oppositely charged alkyl thiols bearing either a quaternary ammonium or a carboxylate moiety. The alkyl chain length of the cationic component (11-mercaptoundecyl)-N,N,N-trimethylammonium, which controls the distance of the positively charged end group from the substrate's surface, was kept constant. In contrast, the anionic component and, correspondingly, the distance of the negatively charged carboxylate groups from the surface was varied by changing the alkyl chain length in the thiol molecules from 7 (8-mercaptooctanoic acid) to 11 (12-mercaptododecanoic acid) to 15 (16-mercaptohexadecanoic acid). In this way, the charge neutrality of the coating was maintained, but the charged groups exposed at the interface to water were varied, and thus, the orientation of the dipoles in the SAMs was altered. In model biofouling studies, protein adsorption, diatom accumulation, and the settlement of zoospores were all affected by the altered charge distribution. This demonstrates the importance of the dipole orientation in mixed-charged SAMs for their inertness to nonspecific protein adsorption and the accumulation of marine organisms. Overall, biofouling was lowest when both the anionic and the cationic groups were placed at the same distance from the substrate's surface. © 2020 American Chemical Society. All rights reserved.

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