Adsorption of charged macromolecules at a gold electrode

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Using an optical reflectometer with impinging-jet system, the adsorption from aqueous solution onto gold of three charged macromolecules has been studied: the strong linear-chain polyelectrolyte polyvinyl pyridine (PVP +), the fifth-generation poly(propylene imine) dendrimer DAB-64, which has a pH-dependent charge and a relatively fixed shape, and the protein lysozyme, of which both the charge and the structure-stability are dependent on solution composition, Experimental conditions that have been varied include the adsorbate concentration, electrolyte concentration, pH, and externally applied potential across the gold/solution interface. Making use of the earlier established dependency of the double layer potential of the gold substrate on solution conditions and externally applied potential, the results of measurements as a function of pH and as a function of external potential control are compared. The total set of results enables us to draw conclusions with respect to the relative importance of electrostatic interactions for the adsorption process. PVP+ adsorption follows the electric potential of the gold/solution interface and is further determined by a rather strong nonelectrostatic affinity between segments and surface. The adsorption behavior of DAB-64 is not quite understood, but electrostatic interactions with the gold surface seem to play a minor role. For lysozyme, surface-induced conformational changes dominate the adsorption process. The extent of spreading of the molecules decreases with increasing polarity of the surface, resulting in a minimum in adsorbed amount around the point of zero potential of the gold.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9703-9713
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • poly(propylene imine) dendrimers
  • protein adsorption
  • solid-surfaces
  • polyelectrolyte adsorption
  • force measurements
  • globular-proteins
  • aqueous-solution
  • water-interface
  • double-layer
  • kinetics

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