Proton and Calcium-Gated Ionic Mesochannels: Phosphate-Bearing Polymer Brushes Hosted in Mesoporous Thin Films As Biomimetic Interfacial Architectures
journal contributionposted on 22.02.2016 by Annette Brunsen, Carolina Díaz, Lía I. Pietrasanta, Basit Yameen, Marcelo Ceolín, Galo J. A. A. Soler-Illia, Omar Azzaroni
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Rational construction of interfaces based on multicomponent responsive systems in which molecular transport is mediated by structures of nanoscale dimensions has become a very fertile research area in biomimetic supramolecular chemistry. Herein, we describe the creation of hybrid mesostructured interfaces with reversible gate-like transport properties that can be controlled by chemical inputs, such as protons or calcium ions. This was accomplished by taking advantage of the surface-initiated polymerization of 2-(methacryloyloxy)ethyl phosphate (MEP) monomer units into and onto mesoporous silica thin films. In this way, phosphate-bearing polymer brushes were used as “gatekeepers” located not only on the outer surface of mesoporous thin films but also in the inner environment of the porous scaffold. Pore-confined PMEP brushes respond to the external triggering chemical signals not only by altering their physicochemical properties but also by switching the transport properties of the mesoporous film. The ion-gate response/operation was based on the protonation and/or chelation of phosphate monomer units in which the polymer brush works as an off-on switch in response to the presence of protons or Ca2+ ions. The hybrid meso-architectured interface and their functional features were studied by a combination of experimental techniques including ellipso-porosimetry, cyclic voltammetry, X-ray reflectivity, grazing incidence small-angle X-ray scattering, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and in situ atomic force microscopy. In this context, we believe that the integration of stimuli-responsive polymer brushes into nanoscopic supramolecular architectures would provide new routes toward multifunctional biomimetic nanosystems displaying transport properties similar to those encountered in biological ligand-gated ion channels.