Structure, Stability And Interfacial Studies Of Self Assembled Monolayers On Gold And Silver Surfaces
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Nanostructured materials play a vital role in almost all aspects of science and technology in the 21st century. The materials include nanoparticles, nanofilms, biological membranes etc. whose physicochemical properties are size-dependent. Thin films have wide range of applications in various branches of science. One of the efficient methods to form miniaturized structures for device applications is to fabricate nanostructured films on different substrates. Surfactant assembly on metallic and non-metallic surfaces based on self assembly and Langmuir-Blodgett technique offers a unique way to form thin films at molecular levels. The process of formation of unimolecular assemblies gives the flexibility of tuning the properties of underlying substrates for various applications including wetting characteristics, lubrication, passivation, mimicking biological phenomena etc. Towards this direction, self assembled monolayers (SAMs) of alkanethiols on gold and silver surfaces have been studied comprehensively for the past two decades. The reported literature on short chain length thiol-based monolayers is however, limited since the formation using conventional methods yield poor quality monolayers. The short chain length monolayers are useful in various applications like tribology, layer-by-layer assemblies, biosensors etc. Hence, it is essential to reproducibly form SAMs of various chain lengths and understand their properties. The present study is related to the formation of SAMs of alkanethiols and diselenides on gold and silver surfaces to form ordered and well-oriented monolayers. Monolayers of varying chain lengths (CH3(CH2)nSH where n = 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 15) have been formed on gold and silver surfaces using different methods, (1) adsorption from neat thiols; (2) adsorption under electrochemical control and (3) adsorption from alcoholic solutions of the thiols. The characteristics features of the SAMs have been followed based on three different aspects, (i) structure and stability of the methylene groups (ii) interfacial characteristics involving the end group and the solvent and (iii) metal-head group interactions. The structure and stability of the monolayers have been followed based on vibrational spectroscopy and electrochemistry under different environment including thermal perturbations. The stability of the SAMs at different temperatures and subsequent changes associated with the orientation / packing has been monitored both in the dry state using reflection absorption infrared spectroscopy (RAIRS) and under electrochemical conditions using cyclic voltammetry and impedance analysis. Monolayers adsorbed from neat thiols show superior quality in terms of stability and structural arrangement. Short chain thiols with n = 3, 5, 7 show substantial stability when the adsorption is carried out from neat thiols. Figure 1 shows the RAIR spectra of hexanethiol SAM on gold adsorbed by three different procedures. Monolayers adsorbed under potential control behave very similar to the monolayers adsorbed from neat thiol as for as stability and structural orientation are concerned. Monolayers prepared using conventional methods of adsorption from alcoholic solutions are of inferior quality in terms of stability and arrangement especially for the short chain lengths. This is likely to be due to the fact that monolayers prepared using conventional methods may have intercalated solvent molecules within the monolayer assembly that degrade the integrity of the SAM leading to poor quality. The blocking characteristics of the monolayers for diffusing redox couple have been followed by determining the heterogeneous electron transfer rate constant using electrochemical techniques. The spectroscopic data and the electrochemical data follow similar trend indicating the superior quality of monolayer adsorbed from neat thiol in terms of stability as compared to conventionally prepared monolayers. Figure 1. RAIR spectra of hexanethiol-SAMs on Au(111) surface at 25C. The monolayers are formed by adsorption (A) from neat thiol (B) under potential control and (C) from alcoholic solution of the thiol. Wavenumber (cm-1) The interfacial characteristics of the monolayers (effect of end group functionality on the solvent properties) have been monitored on the basis of capacitance, contact angle and atomic force microscopy- measurements. Well-organized monolayers behave like good capacitors with relatively low values of double layer capacitance in presence of a liquid electrolyte as compared to the expected values based on known thickness and dielectric constant of the SAMs. This behavior can be explained by invoking the depletion of water density at the methyl terminated SAM-water interface where the solvent properties are different from that of bulk. Variation of one such property, dielectric constant, has been mapped using force measurement based on AFM. Dielectric constant of water changes from the bulk value of 78 to a low value as given in figure 2. This cross-over occurs within a span of 1-3 nm depending on the chain length of the thiol. Of the three procedures used, the ones based on the use of neat thiol and electrochemical adsorption result in well-oriented alkyl chains followed by highly oriented methyl terminal groups. This is responsible for the high hydrophobic nature of the interface and the subsequent observation of interfacial water properties. The SAMs prepared from ethanol fail to show the hydrophobic effects. Hydrophilic monolayers (NH2 terminated monolayers) fail to show depletion of water density at the interface indicating the importance of end group functionality in altering the interfacial characteristics of the monolayer. Figure 2. Spatial variation of dielectric permittivity of water at the hexanethiol SAM - water interface. The SAM is formed on gold (111) surface; (a) from ethanolic solution of the thiol (b) under electrochemical control (c) from neat thiol. The origin on the x-axis is the position of the methyl groups of SAM and the direction towards right side is in to the bulk water. The well-oriented SAMs have been used to follow the adsorption of a biopolymer. Zein protein is a prolamine of maize and is projected to be a biocompatible coating for food products and food containers. Hence, it is essential to prepare impermeable coatings of zein with different surface wetting properties. The adsorption of zein on highly ordered SAMs with hydrophobic or hydrophilic end group functionality has been studied and the orientation of the protein followed using spectroscopy, microscopy and electrochemistry. It is observed that zein shows higher affinity towards hydrophilic than hydrophobic surfaces with small foot print size on the Figure 3. Orientation of zein protein on hydrophilic and hydrophobic SAM as deciphered from the experimental data. hydrophilic surface resulting in large surface coverage. Figure 3 shows the schematics of zein deposits on hydrophilic and hydrophobic SAM surfaces determined based on spectroscopy, quartz crystal microbalance and electrochemical studies. The AFM shows cylindrical, rod-like and disc-like features of zein on hydrophilic surfaces that form the base units for the growth of cylindrical structures of zein. The published literature on the studies on SAMs on silver surfaces reveals that there is no consensus on the structure of the monolayers on silver. This may be due to the difficulty in getting pristine oxide-free surfaces in the case of silver and this is likely to affect the monolayer quality. Hence, it is decided to prepare SAMs of alkanethiols on silver and study their characteristics. Subtle differences between the monolayers adsorbed from neat thiol and from alcoholic solutions of thiols have been observed in terms of stability and permeability. Atomic force microscopic studies illustrate the presence of depletion of water at the SAM-aqueous interface. Diselenide-based monolayers have been formed on gold to understand the head group-substrate interactions on the monolayer properties. The disorder observed on short chain diselenide-based monolayers formed from alcoholic solutions can be eliminated by adsorption from neat compounds as described for the thiols. A preliminary account on the stability of SAMs under hydrodynamic conditions has been given based on rotating disc electrode voltammetry. It is observed that the SAMs get well-ordered when the electrode is rotated at a fast rate leading to the hypothesis that the monolayer assembly gets annealed as a function of the rotation rate. The thesis is planned as follows: Chapter 1 gives general introduction about organic thin films with particular emphasis on self-assembled monolayers on gold and silver, their characteristics in terms of stability, interfacial properties and adsorption behaviour. Chapter 2 deals with the experimental methodologies and schematics used for the preparation and characterization of the monolayers. Chapter 3 is on the contribution of alkyl spacer to the stability of the monolayers studied using spectroscopy and electrochemistry. Chapter 4 deals with the interfacial properties of the SAMs in presence of aqueous medium. In order to emphasize the importance of the terminal functional groups, adsorption of zein has been demonstrated on surfaces of controlled wettablity. Chapter 5 explains the formation and stability of monolayers of short and long chain alkyl diselenides on gold surfaces. Chapter 6 gives the structural and interfacial characteristics of alkanethiol monolayers on silver surfaces. The stability and subsequent changes of alkanethiol monolayers under hydrodynamic conditions has been discussed in the appendix section.(For fig pl refer pdf file.)
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