Structural Studies of Oligo(ethylene glycol)-Containing Assemblies on Gold

Abstract: The work presents in this thesis has been focused on structural  characterization of a series of selected well-defined molecular architectures for the application as biomimetic membranes. The molecular architectures were prepared by self-assembly from dilute solution onto gold substrates, so called self-assembled monolayers (SAMs).Biological membranes are essential components for all living systems; their molecular organizations and interactions with intra- and extracellular networks are key factors of cell functions. Many important biological processes are regulated at membrane interfaces via interactions between membrane proteins. Therefore, identification of the cell structures and understanding of the processes associated with membranes are crucial. However, the intrinsic complexity of the cell membrane systems makes direct investigation extra difficult. Based on this reason, artificial model membranes have become a useful strategy. Especially, solid supported tethered lipid membranes on SAMs allow for controlling the composition and geometry of biomimetic assemblies on molecular scale. However, the underlying mechanisms of lipid vesicle fusion on SAMs remain unclear. In this thesis, a series of thiolate SAMs containing alkyl chains and oligo(ethylene glycol) (OEG) portions of different length as well as amide linking groups were prepared and characterized in detail by employing a number of surface analyzing methods. In parallel, a set of ab initio modeling was undertaken for the best interpretation of the experimental infrared spectra. Investigation of small unilamellar vesicles interact with such SAMs is included as well.The results show this type of assemblies forms highly ordered and oriented SAMs regardless of the length of the extended alkyl chains. The two layers of lateral hydrogen bonding networks through the two amide linking groups improve further the structural robustness of the assemblies. Furthermore, the use of deuterated terminal alkyl chains enables a direct relation between the surface density of the anchor molecules and the properties of the lipidbilayers. IRRAS data and ab initio modeling confirm that orientation of the helical OEG is affected by the second hydrogen bonding layer rather than the extended alkyl tails. Nanopatterns consisting of such SAMs with different extended alkyl chains can be employed as supports for the assembly of artificial cell membranes.