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Demonstration of Hole Transport and Voltage Equilibration in Self-Assembled π-Conjugated Peptide Nanostructures Using Field-Effect Transistor Architectures

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† ‡ § Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Whiting School of Engineering, Department of Chemistry, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, and §Institute of NanoBioTechnology, Johns Hopkins University, 3400 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21218 United States
*Address correspondence to [email protected]
Cite this: ACS Nano 2015, 9, 12, 12401–12409
Publication Date (Web):November 11, 2015
Copyright © 2015 American Chemical Society

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    π-Conjugated peptide materials are attractive for bioelectronics due to their unique photophysical characteristics, biofunctional interfaces, and processability under aqueous conditions. In order to be relevant for electrical applications, these types of materials must be able to support the passage of current and the transmission of applied voltages. Presented herein is an investigation of both the current and voltage transmission activities of one-dimensional π-conjugated peptide nanostructures. Observations of the nanostructures as both semiconducting and gate layers in organic field-effect transistors (OFETs) were made, and the effect of systematic changes in amino acid composition on the semiconducting/conducting functionality of the nanostructures was investigated. These molecular variations directly impacted the hole mobility values observed for the nanomaterial active layers over 3 orders of magnitude (∼0.02 to 5 × 10–5 cm2 V–1 s–1) when the nanostructures had quaterthiophene cores and the assembled peptide materials spanned source and drain electrodes. Peptides without the quaterthiophene core were used as controls and did not show field-effect currents, verifying that the transport properties of the nanostructures rely on the semiconducting behavior of the π-electron core and not just ionic rearrangements. We also showed that the nanomaterials could act as gate electrodes and assessed the effect of varying the gate dielectric layer thickness in devices where the conventional organic semiconductor pentacene spanned the source and drain electrodes in a top-contact OFET, showing an optimum performance with 35–40 nm dielectric thickness. This study shows that these peptides that self-assemble in aqueous environments can be used successfully to transmit electronic signals over biologically relevant distances.

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    The Supporting Information is available free of charge on the ACS Publications website at DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.5b05752.

    • Synthetic procedures; characterization data for the peptides (1H NMR, ESI-MS, HPLC traces), Figures S1–S15; and supplementary data (absorption/emission spectra, microscopy images), Figures S16–S29 (PDF)

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