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J Am Chem Soc. 2006 Jan 18;128(2):542-57.

Dynamics of electron transport by elastic bending of short DNA duplexes. Experimental study and quantitative modeling of the cyclic voltammetric behavior of 3'-ferrocenyl DNA end-grafted on gold.

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Laboratoire d'Electrochimie Moléculaire, Unité Mixte de Recherche Université - CNRS No. 7591, Université de Paris 7 - Denis Diderot, France.


The dynamics of electron transport within a molecular monolayer of 3'-ferrocenylated-(dT)(20) strands, 5'-thiol end-grafted onto gold electrode surfaces via a short C2-alkyl linker, is analyzed using cyclic voltammetry as the excitation/measurement technique. It is shown that the single-stranded DNA layer behaves as a diffusionless system, due to the high flexibility of the ss-DNA chain. Upon hybridization by the fully complementary (dA)(20) target, the DNA-modified gold electrode displays a highly unusual voltammetric behavior, the faradaic signal even ultimately switching off at a high enough potential scan rate. This remarkable extinction phenomenon is qualitatively and quantitatively justified by the model of elastic bending diffusion developed in the present work which describes the motion of the DNA-borne ferrocene moiety as resulting from the elastic bending of the duplex DNA toward and away from the electrode surface. Its use allows us to demonstrate that the dynamics of electron transport within the hybridized DNA layer is solely controlled by the intrinsic bending elasticity of ds-DNA. Fast scan rate cyclic voltammetry of end-grafted, redox-labeled DNA layers is shown to be an extremely efficient method to probe the bending dynamics of short-DNA fragments in the submillisecond time range. The persistence length of the end-anchored ds-DNA, a parameter quantifying the flexibility of the nanometer-long duplex, can then be straightforwardly and accurately determined from the voltammetry data.

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