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  • [May 23, 2018]

    Multivalent Ions Induce Lateral Structural Inhomogeneities in Biomimetic Polyelectrolyte Brushes

  • Speaker:
    Jing Yu
    Wednesday, May 23, 2018
    Room 717, Chemistry Building A
    Yanglong Hou
  • Abstract
  • Understanding the response of polyelectrolytes to their environment has challenged materials scientists for decades. Polyelectrolyte brushes are of particular interest, as they can regulate transport of ions and molecules, control wettability and adhesion of surfaces, or convert chemical and biochemical stimuli into optical, electrical, and mechanical signals. We combined neutron-reflectivity (NR), atomic force microscopy (AFM), surface forces apparatus (SFA) measurements, and coarse-grained molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to study the structure of planar biomimetic polyelectrolyte brushes (poly(styrenesulfonate), PSS) in a variety of solvent conditions, especially in the presence of multivalent counterions. Multivalent-ion induced lateral structural inhomogeneities of the PSS brushes were first indicated by NR measurements. AFM images provide a direct visualization of lateral inhomogeneities on the surface of polyelectrolyte brushes collapsed in solutions containing trivalent counterions. These images are interpreted in the context of a coarse-grained molecular model, and are corroborated by accompanying interaction-force measurements with the SFA. Our findings indicate that lateral inhomogeneities are absent from PSS brush layers collapsed in a poor solvent without multivalent ions The inhomogeneous structures of the polyelectrolyte brushes in the presence of multivalent ions can dramatically alter their functionalities in various biomedical applications, such as lubrication, sensors, and DNA-based microarrays.
  • Biography
  • Dr. Yu Jing is an assistant professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree from Tsinghua University in 2007, and PhD from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2012, both in Chemical Engineering. His PhD research under the supervision of Prof. Jacob Israelachvili focused on the nanomechanics of biomaterials and biomimetics. He conducted experimental and theoretical studies on both mussel and gecko adhesive systems, and developed bio-inspired polymer surfaces and nano-structured materials. Following his PhD, Jing did a postdoc with Prof. James Heath at California Institute of Technology, where he worked on engineered T cell immunotherapy. In 2014, he expanded his research interests towards polyelectrolytes brushes during his postdoc with Prof. Matthew Tirrell at the University of Chicago.

    The overall goal of Dr. Yu Jing’s research is to characterize the dynamic properties of interfaces with hierarchical structures, and to gain molecular-level control of soft interfaces to enable design of integrated, multifunctional interfaces. He is interested in non-equilibrium properties of soft interfaces, bioinspired materials and biomimetics, intermolecular interactions, nanomechanics, self-assembly of supramolecular structures, as well as X-ray and neutron scattering.