PAPER: Self-assembly of artificial nucleobase 1H-benzimidazole-4,7-dione at the liquid/solid interface

Mamdouh, W.; Kelly, R. E. A.; Dong, M.; Jacobsen, M. F.; Ferapontova, E. E.; Kantorovich, L. N.; Gothelf, K. V.; Besenbacher, F. J.

Phys. Chem. B 2009, 113, 8675–8681, doi: 10.1021/jp9029419

Centre for DNA Nanotechnology, Department of Physics, Aarhus University


Self-assembly at the liquid/solid interface of an electrochemically active DNA nucleobase analogue, 1H-benzoimidazole-4,7-dione (Q), has been studied by means of scanning tunneling microscopy (STM). High-resolution STM images revealed the formation of well-ordered two-dimensional (2D) supramolecular nanostructures when the Q molecules are adsorbed onto the graphite surface from a 1-octanol solution. Detailed analysis shows that the observed 2D nanostructures are mainly dominated by hydrogen-bonded Q molecules. Since Q can be considered as a molecule mimicking the nucleobase guanine (G), which is known to form Watson-Crick base pairs with its complementary nucleobase cytosine (C), we have examined the binding ability of Q with C realized by available hydrogen-bonding sites on both Q and C molecules. Upon deposition of a mixture of Q and C molecules onto a graphite surface, one might expect that hydrogen-bonded QC dimers were observed in a new 2D self-assembled structure governed by inter- and intramolecular hydrogen-bonding interactions between Q and C molecules. However, our STM experiments showed that no well-ordered structures are formed and instead phase separation occurs where large-scale homodomains are formed consisting of the individual QQ and CC dimers. To gain further insight into the possible molecular arrangements of the Q and C nucleobases in the mixture phase, the high-resolution STM images are compared with the results from ab initio density functional theory (DFT) calculations.

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