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  1. Abstract

    The composition of fluorescent polymer nanoparticles, commonly referred to as carbon dots, synthesized by microwave‐assisted reaction of citric acid and ethylenediamine was investigated by13C,13C{1H},1H─13C,13C{14N}, and15N solid‐state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) experiments.13C NMR with spectral editing provided no evidence for significant condensed aromatic or diamondoid carbon phases.15N NMR showed that the nanoparticle matrix has been polymerized by amide and some imide formation. Five small, resolved13C NMR peaks, including an unusual ═CH signal at 84 ppm (1H chemical shift of 5.8 ppm) and ═CN2at 155 ppm, and two distinctive15N NMR resonances near 80 and 160 ppm proved the presence of 5‐oxo‐1,2,3,5‐tetrahydroimidazo[1,2‐a]pyridine‐7‐carboxylic acid (IPCA) or its derivatives. This molecular fluorophore with conjugated double bonds, formed by a double cyclization reaction of citric acid and ethylenediamine as first shown by Y. Song, B. Yang, and coworkers in 2015, accounts for the fluorescence of the carbon dots. Cross‐peaks in a1H─13C HETCOR spectrum with brief1H spin diffusion proved that IPCA is finely dispersed in the polyamide matrix. From quantitative13C and15N NMR spectra, a high concentration (18 ± 2 wt%) of IPCA in the carbon dots was determined. A pronounced gradient in13C chemical‐shift perturbations and peak widths, with the broadest lines near the COO group of IPCA, indicated at least partial transformation of the carboxylic acid of IPCA by amide or ester formation.

     
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  3. The molecular features that dictate interactions between functionalized nanoparticles and biomolecules are not well understood. This is in part because for highly charged nanoparticles in solution, establishing a clear connection between the molecular features of surface ligands and common experimental observables such as ζ potential requires going beyond the classical models based on continuum and mean field models. Motivated by these considerations, molecular dynamics simulations are used to probe the electrostatic properties of functionalized gold nanoparticles and their interaction with a charged peptide in salt solutions. Counterions are observed to screen the bare ligand charge to a significant degree even at the moderate salt concentration of 50 mM. As a result, the apparent charge density and ζ potential are largely insensitive to the bare ligand charge densities, which fall in the range of ligand densities typically measured experimentally for gold nanoparticles. While this screening effect was predicted by classical models such as the Manning condensation theory, the magnitudes of the apparent surface charge from microscopic simulations and mean-field models are significantly different. Moreover, our simulations found that the chemical features of the surface ligand ( e.g. , primary vs. quaternary amines, heterogeneous ligand lengths) modulate the interfacial ion and water distributions and therefore the interfacial potential. The importance of interfacial water is further highlighted by the observation that introducing a fraction of hydrophobic ligands enhances the strength of electrostatic binding of the charged peptide. Finally, the simulations highlight that the electric double layer is perturbed upon binding interactions. As a result, it is the bare charge density rather than the apparent charge density or ζ potential that better correlates with binding affinity of the nanoparticle to a charged peptide. Overall, our study highlights the importance of molecular features of the nanoparticle/water interface and underscores a set of design rules for the modulation of electrostatic driven interactions at nano/bio interfaces. 
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  5. Nanoscale complex metal oxides have transformed how technology is used around the world. A ubiquitous example is the class of electroreactive cathodes used in Li-ion batteries, found in portable electronics and electric cars. Lack of recycling infrastructure and financial drivers contribute to improper disposal, and ultimately, introduction of these materials into the environment. Outside of sealed operational conditions, it has been demonstrated that complex metal oxides can transform in the environment, and cause negative biological impact through leaching of cations into aqueous phases. Using a combined DFT and thermodynamics methodology, insights into the mechanism and driving forces of cation release can be studied at the molecular-level. Here, we describe design principles that can be drawn from previous collaborative research on complex metal oxide dissolution of the Li(Ni y Mn z Co 1−y−z )O 2 family of materials, and go on to posit ternary complex metal oxides in the delafossite structure type with controlled release behavior. Using equistoichiometric formulations in the delfossite structure, we use DFT and thermodynamics to model cation release. The release trends are discussed in terms of lattice stability, solution chemistry/solubility limits, and electronic/magnetic properties. Intercalation voltages are calculated and discussed as a predictive metric for potential functionality of the model materials. 
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