In situ characterization of N-carboxy anhydride polymerization in nanoporous anodic alumina

Lau, K. H. A. and Duran, H. and Knoll, W. (2009) In situ characterization of N-carboxy anhydride polymerization in nanoporous anodic alumina. Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 113 (10). pp. 3179-3189. ISSN 1520-6106 (

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Poly(gamma-benzyl-L-glutamate) (PBLG) has been a Popular model polypeptide for a range of physicochemical studies, and its modifiable ester side chains make it an attractive platform for various potential applications. Thin films of Poly(gamma-benzyl-L-glutamate) PBLG were surface grafted within nanoporous anodic alumina (AAO) by surface-initiated polymerization of the N-carboxy anhydride of benzyl-L-glutamate (BLG-NCA). The grafting process was characterized by optical waveguide spectroscopy (OWS), infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). OWS was able to track the PBLG layer thickness increase in Situ, and ex situ FT-IR gave complementary information on the PBLG chain's secondary structure. Transitions in the PBLG growth rate could be correlated with transitions in the polypeptide secondary structure. The emergence of a three-dimensional, anisotropic PBLG morphology within the cylindrical pores of the AAO membrane was also identified as the grafted PBLG average layer thickness increased. Comparison of the PBLG/AAO results with those on a planar silicon dioxide surface indicated that both the conformational transitions and the PBLG nanostructure development could be attributed to the confining geometry within the pores of the nanoporous AAO matrix. The use of a nanoporous AAO matrix, combined with the surface grafting of a thin film of PBLG chains with multiple modifiable side chains, could potentially offer a nanoporous platform with a very high density of functional sites.