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Keywords:

  • adsorption;
  • carbon nanotubes;
  • proteins;
  • scanning probe microscopy

Abstract

The dispersion of highly hydrophobic carbon materials such as carbon nanotubes in biological media is a challenging issue. Indeed, the nonspecific adsorption of proteins occurs readily when the nanotubes are introduced in biological media; therefore, a methodology to control adsorption is in high demand. To address this issue, we developed a bifunctional linker derived from pyrene that selectively enables or prevents the adsorption of proteins on single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs). We demonstrated that it is possible to decrease or completely suppress the adsorption of proteins on the nanotube sidewall by using proper functionalization (either covalent or noncovalent). By subsequently activating the functional groups on the nanotube derivatives, protein adsorption can be recovered and, therefore, controlled. Our approach is simple, straightforward, and potentially suitable for other biomolecules that contain thio or amino groups available for coupling.