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Surface Science & Analytics - Prof. (apl.) Dr. Michael Zharnikov

Design and applications of ultrathin membranes

Biocompatible nanomembranes based on PEGylation of cross-linked self-assembled monolayers

Chem. Mater. 24, 2965 (2012)

Nitro-functionalized aromatic SAMs on gold substrate were extensively cross-linked and selectively modified (nitro-to-amino transformation) by electron irradiation. The created amino groups served as the docking sites for the coupling of PEG moieties using a grafting-to method in such a way that the resulting PEGylated films become protein-repelling. Based on these PEGylated monolayers, we prepared ultrathin, mechanically stable, and protein-repelling membranes which can be used as a highly transparent support in TEM experiments. Whereas the ultimate thinness (< 5 nm)  and low atomic number character of this support material guarantee high imaging quality (low extent of electron scattering), its protein-repelling properties ensure the lack of protein denaturing, which may improve essentially the resolution and structural reliability of TEM and HRTEM experiments in their specific application to sensitive biological targets.
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