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Concept: Monolayer


Cholesterol has been suggested to play a role in stable vesicle formation by adjusting the molecular packing of the vesicular bilayer. To explore the mechanisms involved in adjusting the bilayer structure by cholesterol, the molecular packing behavior in a mimic outer layer of cationic dialkyldimethylammonium bromide (DXDAB)/cholesterol vesicular bilayer was investigated by the Langmuir monolayer approach with infrared reflection-absorption spectroscopy (IRRAS). The results indicated that the addition of cholesterol in the DXDAB Langmuir monolayers not only restrained the desorption of the DXDAB with short hydrocarbon chains, such as ditetradecyldimethylammonium bromide or dihexadecyldimethylammonium bromide, into the aqueous phase but also induced a condensing effect on the DXDAB monolayers. At a liquid-expanded (LE) state, the ordering effect of cholesterol accompanying the condensing effect occurred in the mixed DXDAB/cholesterol monolayers due to the tendency of maximizing hydrocarbon chain contact between cholesterol and the neighboring hydrocarbon chains. However, for the mixed monolayers containing the DXDAB with long hydrocarbon chains, such as dioctadecyldimethylammonium bromide (DODAB), the disordering effect of cholesterol took place at a liquid-condensed (LC) state. This was related to the molecular structure of cholesterol and hydrocarbon chain length of DODAB. The rigid sterol ring of cholesterol hindered the portion of neighboring hydrocarbon chains from motion. However, the flexible alkyl side-chain of cholesterol along with the corresponding portion of neighboring hydrocarbon chains formed a fluidic region, counteracting the enhanced conformational order induced by the sterol ring of cholesterol. Furthermore, the long hydrocarbon chains of DODAB possessed a more pronounced motion freedom, resulting in a more disordered packing of the monolayers.

Concepts: Hydrocarbon, Physical chemistry, Steroid, Molecular geometry, Lipid bilayer, Infrared spectroscopy, Monolayer, Langmuir


We have studied interfacial compressibility and lateral organization in monolayer configurations of total (squalene containing) and polar (squalene-devoid) lipid extracts of Halobacterium salinarum NRC-1, an extremely halophilic archaeon. Pressure-area isotherms derived from Langmuir experiments reveal that packing characteristics and elastic compressibility are strongly influenced by the presence of squalene in the total lipid extract. In conjunction with control experiments using mixtures of DPhPC and squalene, our results establish that the presence of squalene significantly extends elastic area compressibility of total lipid extracts, suggesting it has a role in facilitating tighter packing of archaeal lipid mixtures. Moreover, we find that squalene also influences spatial organization in archaeal membranes. Epifluorescence and atomic force microscopy characterization of Langmuir monolayers transferred onto solid hydrophilic substrates reveal unusual domain morphology. Individual domains of microscopic dimensions (as well as their extended networks) exhibiting a peculiar bowl-like topography are evident in atomic force microscopy images. The tall rims outlining individual domains indicates that squalene accumulates at the domain periphery in a manner similar to the accumulation of cholesterol at domain boundaries in their mixtures with phospholipids. Taken together, results presented here support the notion that squalene plays a role in modulating molecular packing and lateral organization (i.e., domain formation) in the membranes of archaea analogous to that of cholesterol in eukaryotic membranes.

Concepts: Archaea, Bacteria, Eukaryote, Lipid bilayer, Domain, Monolayer, Langmuir, Halobacterium


Peptoid nanosheets are a recently discovered class of 2D nanomaterial that form from the self-assembly of a sequence-specific peptoid polymer at an air-water interface. Nanosheet formation occurs first through the assembly of a peptoid monolayer and subsequent compression into a bilayer structure. These bilayer materials span hundreds of micrometers in lateral dimensions and have the potential to be used in a variety of applications, such as in molecular sensors, artificial membranes, and as catalysts. This paper reports that the oil-water interface provides another opportunity for growth of these unique and highly ordered peptoid sheets. The monolayers formed at this interface are found through surface spectroscopic measurements to be highly ordered and electrostatic interactions between the charged moieties, namely carboxylate and ammonium residues, of the peptoid are essential in the ability of these peptoids to form ordered nanosheets at the oil-water interface. Expanding the mechanism of peptoid nanosheet formation to the oil-water interface and understanding the crucial role of electrostatic interactions between peptoid residues in nanosheet formation is essential for increasing the complexity and functionality of these nanomaterials.

Concepts: Electric charge, Nanotechnology, Nanomaterials, Solid, Physical chemistry, The Assembly, Monolayer, Peptoid


Two-dimensional (2D) materials have been studied extensively as monolayers, vertical or lateral heterostructures. To achieve functionalization, monolayers are often patterned using soft lithography and selectively decorated with molecules. Here we demonstrate the growth of a family of 2D materials that are intrinsically patterned. We demonstrate that a monolayer of PtSe2 can be grown on a Pt substrate in the form of a triangular pattern of alternating 1T and 1H phases. Moreover, we show that, in a monolayer of CuSe grown on a Cu substrate, strain relaxation leads to periodic patterns of triangular nanopores with uniform size. Adsorption of different species at preferred pattern sites is also achieved, demonstrating that these materials can serve as templates for selective self-assembly of molecules or nanoclusters, as well as for the functionalization of the same substrate with two different species.

Concepts: Species, Demonstration, Periodic table, Pattern, Photolithography, 2D computer graphics, Monolayer, Soft lithography


Despite the need for molecularly smooth self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) on silicon dioxide surfaces (the most common dielectric surface), current techniques are limited to non-ideal silane grafting. Here, we show unique bio-inspired zwitterionic molecules forming a molecularly smooth and uniformly thin SAM in “water” in <1 min on various dielectric surfaces, which enables a dip-coating process that is essential for organic electronics to become reality. This monomolecular layer leads to high mobility of organic field-effect transistors (OFETs) based on various organic semiconductors and source/drain electrodes. A combination of experimental and computational techniques confirms strong adsorption (Wad>20 mJ m-2), uniform thickness (~0.5 or ~1 nm) and orientation (all catechol head groups facing the oxide surface) of the “monomolecular” layers. This robust (strong adsorption), rapid, and green SAM represents a promising advancement towards the next generation of nanofabrication compared to the current non-uniform and inconsistent polysiloxane-based SAM involving toxic chemicals, long processing time (>10 h), and/or heat (>80°C).

Concepts: Oxygen, Silicon, Transistor, Germanium, Self-assembled monolayer, Thin films, Monolayer, Organic semiconductor


Hydrogen exchange (HX) mass spectrometry (MS) is valuable for providing conformational information for proteins/peptides that are very difficult to analyze with other methods such as peripheral membrane proteins and peptides that interact with membranes. We developed a new type of HX MS measurement that integrates Langmuir monolayers. A lipid monolayer was generated, a peptide or protein associated with it, and then the monolayer-associated peptide or protein was exposed to deuterium. The deuterated species was recovered from the monolayer, digested, and deuterium incorporation monitored by MS. Test peptides showed that deuterium recovery in an optimized protocol was equivalent to deuterium recovery in conventional solution HX MS. The reproducibility of the measurements was high, despite the requirement of generating a new monolayer for each deuterium labeling time. We validated that known conformational changes in the presence of a monolayer/membrane could be observed with the peptide melittin and the myristoylated protein Arf-1. Results in an accompanying paper show that the method can reveal details of conformational changes in a protein (HIV-1 Nef), which adopts a different conformation, depending on whether or not it is able to insert into the lipid layer. Overall, the HX MS Langmuir monolayer method provided new and meaningful conformational information for proteins that associate with lipid layers. The combination of HX MS results with neutron or X-ray reflection of the same proteins in Langmuir monolayers can be more informative than the isolated use of either method.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Mass spectrometry, Peptide, Membrane protein, Physical chemistry, In-gel digestion, Monolayer


In the companion paper to this work, we described development of a new type of hydrogen exchange (HX) mass spectrometry (MS) measurement that integrates Langmuir monolayers. With Langmuir monolayers, the lipid packing density can be reproducibly controlled and changed as desired. Analysis of HX in proteins that may undergo conformational changes as a function of lipid packing (for example, conformational rearrangements after insertion into a lipid layer) are then possible. We previously used neutron reflection to characterize just such a conformational change in the myristoylated HIV-1 Nef protein (myrNef): at high lipid packing density, myrNef could not insert into the lipids and maintained a compact conformation adjacent to the monolayer, whereas at lower lipid packing density, myrNef was able to insert N-terminal arm residues, causing displacement of the core domain away from the monolayer. In order to locate where conformation may have been altered by lipid association, we applied the HX MS Langmuir monolayer method to myrNef associated with monolayers of packing densities identical to those used for the prior neutron reflection measurements. The results show that the N-terminal region and the C-terminal unstructured loop undergo conformational changes when associated with a low density lipid monolayer. The results are not consistent with the hypothesis of myrNef dimerization upon membrane association in the absence of other myrNef binding partners. The HX MS Langmuir monolayer method provides new and meaningful information for myrNef that helps explain necessary conformational changes required for function at the membrane.

Concepts: Protein, Protein structure, Physical chemistry, Change, Lipid bilayer, Monolayer, Hydrogen-deuterium exchange, Langmuir


Layer-by-layer stacking or lateral interfacing of atomic monolayers has opened up unprecedented opportunities to engineer two-dimensional heteromaterials. Fabrication of such artificial heterostructures with atomically clean and sharp interfaces, however, is challenging. Here, we report a one-step growth strategy for the creation of high-quality vertically stacked as well as in-plane interconnected heterostructures of WS2/MoS2 via control of the growth temperature. Vertically stacked bilayers with WS2 epitaxially grown on top of the MoS2 monolayer are formed with preferred stacking order at high temperature. A strong interlayer excitonic transition is observed due to the type II band alignment and to the clean interface of these bilayers. Vapour growth at low temperature, on the other hand, leads to lateral epitaxy of WS2 on MoS2 edges, creating seamless and atomically sharp in-plane heterostructures that generate strong localized photoluminescence enhancement and intrinsic p-n junctions. The fabrication of heterostructures from monolayers, using simple and scalable growth, paves the way for the creation of unprecedented two-dimensional materials with exciting properties.

Concepts: 1980s music groups, Chemical vapor deposition, Object-oriented programming, Semiconductor device fabrication, Epitaxy, Monolayer, The Clean, Vertical integration


Bismuth, one of the heaviest semimetals in nature, ignited the interest of the materials physics community for its potential impact on topological quantum material systems that use its strong spin-orbit coupling and unique orbital hybridization. In particular, recent theoretical predictions of unique topological and superconducting properties of thin bismuth films and interfaces prompted intense research on the growth of submonolayers to a few monolayers of bismuth on different substrates. Similar to bulk rhombohedral bismuth, the initial growth of bismuth films on most substrates results in buckled bilayers that grow in either the (111) or (110) directions, with a lattice constant close to that of bulk Bi. By contrast, we show a new growth pattern for bismuth monolayers on NbSe2. We find that the initial growth of Bi can form a strongly bonded commensurate layer, resulting in a compressively strained two-dimensional (2D) triangular lattice. We also observed unique pattern of 1D ripples and domain walls is observed. The single layer of bismuth also introduces strong marks on the electronic properties at the surface.

Concepts: Scientific method, Physics, Condensed matter physics, Physical chemistry, Materials science, Nature, Linus Pauling, Monolayer


Mycolactone is a lipid-like endotoxin synthesized by an environmental human pathogen, Mycobacterium ulcerans, the causal agent of Buruli ulcer disease. Mycolactone has pleiotropic effects on fundamental cellular processes (cell adhesion, cell death and inflammation). Various cellular targets of mycolactone have been identified and a literature survey revealed that most of these targets are membrane receptors residing in ordered plasma membrane nanodomains, within which their functionalities can be modulated. We investigated the capacity of mycolactone to interact with membranes, to evaluate its effects on membrane lipid organization following its diffusion across the cell membrane. We used Langmuir monolayers as a cell membrane model. Experiments were carried out with a lipid composition chosen to be as similar as possible to that of the plasma membrane. Mycolactone, which has surfactant properties, with an apparent saturation concentration of 1 μM, interacted with the membrane at very low concentrations (60 nM). The interaction of mycolactone with the membrane was mediated by the presence of cholesterol and, like detergents, mycolactone reshaped the membrane. In its monomeric form, this toxin modifies lipid segregation in the monolayer, strongly affecting the formation of ordered microdomains. These findings suggest that mycolactone disturbs lipid organization in the biological membranes it crosses, with potential effects on cell functions and signaling pathways. Microdomain remodeling may therefore underlie molecular events, accounting for the ability of mycolactone to attack multiple targets and providing new insight into a single unifying mechanism underlying the pleiotropic effects of this molecule. This membrane remodeling may act in synergy with the other known effects of mycolactone on its intracellular targets, potentiating these effects.

Concepts: Protein, Bacteria, Cell membrane, Mycobacterium, Lipid bilayer, Mycobacterium ulcerans, Monolayer, Buruli ulcer