American Chemical Society
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Chiral Plasmonic Fields Probe Structural Order of Biointerfaces

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journal contribution
posted on 2018-06-18, 00:00 authored by Christopher Kelly, Ryan Tullius, Adrian J. Lapthorn, Nikolaj Gadegaard, Graeme Cooke, Laurence D. Barron, Affar S. Karimullah, Vincent M. Rotello, Malcolm Kadodwala
The structural order of biopolymers, such as proteins, at interfaces defines the physical and chemical interactions of biological systems with their surroundings and is hence a critical parameter in a range of biological problems. Known spectroscopic methods for routine rapid monitoring of structural order in biolayers are generally only applied to model single-component systems that possess a spectral fingerprint which is highly sensitive to orientation. This spectroscopic behavior is not a generic property and may require the addition of a label. Importantly, such techniques cannot readily be applied to real multicomponent biolayers, have ill-defined or unknown compositions, and have complex spectroscopic signatures with many overlapping bands. Here, we demonstrate the sensitivity of plasmonic fields with enhanced chirality, a property referred to as superchirality, to global orientational order within both simple model and “real” complex protein layers. The sensitivity to structural order is derived from the capability of superchiral fields to detect the anisotropic nature of electric dipole–magnetic dipole response of the layer; this is validated by numerical simulations. As a model study, the evolution of orientational order with increasing surface density in layers of the antibody immunoglobulin G was monitored. As an exemplar of greater complexity, superchiral fields are demonstrated, without knowledge of exact composition, to be able to monitor how qualitative changes in composition alter the structural order of protein layers formed from blood serum, thereby establishing the efficacy of the phenomenon as a tool for studying complex biological interfaces.