Polymer Engineering Faculty Research

Langmuir Adsorption Study of the Interaction of CdSe/ZnS Quantum Dots with Model Substrates: Influence of Substrate Surface Chemistry and pH

Alamgir Karim


We investigate the utility of Langmuir adsorption measurements for characterizing nanoparticle-substrate interactions. Spherical CdSe/ZnS core-shell nanoparticles were chosen as representative particles because of their widespread use in biological labeling measurements and their relatively monodisperse dimensions. In particular, the quantum dots were functionalized with 11-mercaptoundecanoic acid, and we utilized an amine-terminated self-assembled monolayer (SAM) as a model substrate. SAMs with different end-groups (-CH(3) and -COOH) were also considered to contrast with the adsorption behavior on the amine-terminated SAM substrates. We followed the kinetics of nanoparticle adsorption on the aminosilane layer by quartz crystal microgravimetry (QCM) over a range of particle concentrations and determined the corresponding Langmuir adsorption isotherms. Analysis of both equilibrium adsorption and kinetic adsorption data allowed us to determine a consistent value of the Langmuir adsorption equilibrium constant for the amine-terminated SAM at room temperature (K(L) approximately 2.7 (micromol/L)(-1)), providing a useful characterization of the nanoparticle-substrate interaction. The effect of varying solution pH on Langmuir adsorption was also investigated in order to gain insight into the role of electrostatic interactions on nanoparticle adsorption. The equilibrium extent of adsorption was found to be maximum at about pH 7. These changes of nanoparticle adsorption were further quantified and validated by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and confocal fluorescence microscopy measurements. We conclude that Langmuir adsorption measurements provide a promising approach for quantifying nanoparticle-substrate interactions.