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Interaction of Single-Stranded DNA with Curved Carbon Nanotube Is Much Stronger Than with Flat Graphite

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† ‡ Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Bioengineering Program, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania 18015, United States
§ Department of Chemistry, Lehigh University, 6. E. Packer Ave., Bethlehem, Pennsylvania 18015, United States
Cite this: J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2014, 136, 37, 12947–12957
Publication Date (Web):August 27, 2014
Copyright © 2014 American Chemical Society

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    We used single molecule force spectroscopy to measure the force required to remove single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) homopolymers from single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) deposited on methyl-terminated self-assembled monolayers (SAMs). The peeling forces obtained from these experiments are bimodal in distribution. The cluster of low forces corresponds to peeling from the SAM surface, while the cluster of high forces corresponds to peeling from the SWCNTs. Using a simple equilibrium model of the single molecule peeling process, we calculated the free energy of binding per nucleotide. We found that the free energy of ssDNA binding to hydrophobic SAMs decreases as poly(A) > poly(G) ≈ poly(T) > poly(C) (16.9 ± 0.1; 9.7 ± 0.1; 9.5 ± 0.1; 8.7 ± 0.1 kBT, per nucleotide). The free energy of ssDNA binding to SWCNT adsorbed on this SAM also decreases in the same order poly(A) > poly(G) > poly(T) > poly(C), but its magnitude is significantly greater than that of DNA–SAM binding energy (38.1 ± 0.2; 33.9 ± 0.1; 23.3 ± 0.1; 17.1 ± 0.1 kBT, per nucleotide). An unexpected finding is that binding strength of ssDNA to the curved SWCNTs is much greater than to flat graphite, which also has a different ranking (poly(T) > poly(A) > poly(G) ≥ poly(C); 11.3 ± 0.8, 9.9 ± 0.5, 8.3 ± 0.2, and 7.5 ± 0.8 kBT, respectively, per nucleotide). Replica-exchange molecular dynamics simulations show that ssDNA binds preferentially to the curved SWCNT surface, leading us to conclude that the differences in ssDNA binding between graphite and nanotubes arise from the spontaneous curvature of ssDNA.

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