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J Phys Chem B. 2008 Oct 9;112(40):12840-50. doi: 10.1021/jp805711v. Epub 2008 Sep 13.

Effects of monolayer structures on long-range electron transfer in helical peptide monolayer.

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  • 1Department of Material Chemistry, Graduate School of Engineering, Kyoto University, Kyoto-Daigaku-Katsura, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan.


Self-assembled monolayers of alpha-helical peptides were prepared on gold, and the effects of the monolayer structures (kind of constituent amino acid, molecular orientation, and molecular packing) on long-range electron transfer through the helical peptides were studied. The helical peptides were 16mer peptides having a thiophenyl linker at the N-terminal for immobilization on gold and a redox active ferrocene moiety at the C-terminal as an electron-transfer probe. The peptides were immobilized on gold by a gold-sulfur linkage and the electron transfer from the ferrocene moiety to gold was studied by electrochemical methods. When two types of the peptides, one with the repeating unit of Leu-Aib (Aib represents 2-aminoisobutyric acid) and the other with that of Ala-Aib, were compared, the electron transfer was found one order slower in the Leu-Aib peptide monolayer than that in the Ala-Aib peptide monolayer. The self-assembled monolayers of the Ala-Aib peptide with mixing of three different lengths of the peptides, 8mer, 12mer, and 16mer without a ferrocene moiety, were also prepared. The monolayer regularity in terms of molecular orientation and packing was higher roughly in the order of the monolayers mixed with 16mer > 12mer > no additive > 8mer, but the electron transfer became faster in the opposite order. The logarithms of the standard rate constants showed a nearly linear relationship with the direct distances between the ferrocene moiety and gold (beta = 0.32 A (-1)). Some data deviated from this linear relationship, but the deviations could be explained from the difference in the molecular packing, which was evaluated from the monolayer capacitance. It is thus concluded that an electron is transferred along a few molecules along the surface normal so that the vertical orientation or the increase of the interchain backbone separation slows down the electron transfer. Further, it is demonstrated that a tightly packed monolayer, where vibrational mode is restricted, suppresses the electron transfer. Three models are proposed to account for the observed molecular dynamics effects on the basis of either electron-transfer mechanism of electron tunneling or sequential hopping.

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