Surface Water as a Mediator and Reporter of Adhesion at Aqueous Interfaces




Jarisz, Tasha A.
Roy, Sandra
Hore, Dennis K.

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Accounts of Chemical Research


Understanding the adsorption of molecules onto surfaces is integral to a wide variety of fields with scientific, engineering, and industrial applications. The surface-adsorbed structure is governed by the nature of the molecule, surface characteristics, and solution environment. There are therefore three critical interactions that govern adhesion: solvent–analyte, substrate–analyte, and substrate–solvent. The last two interactions require a surface-specific probe restricted to a few nanometers or less. This is particularly true of efforts to probe polymer surface structure without being overwhelmed by bulk polymer signal or interfacial water structure in the presence of bulk water. Second-order nonlinear optical techniques are ideal probes of such interactions, as their reporting depth is determined by the polar arrangement of molecules (a break in the macroscopic inversion symmetry) rather than the penetration of the optical fields. This Account begins with an introduction of surface water structure from the perspective of a nonlinear probe. Details about the unique view of the water orientation distribution are discussed and contrasted with information obtained from conventional vibrational techniques. The salient features of water next to model hydrophobic and hydrophilic surfaces are discussed, in preparation for a discussion of solute interactions that follows. We then present three examples using a combination of linear and nonlinear vibrational spectroscopy and molecular dynamics simulations to illustrate how water is both a mediator and a marker of adhesion. The first is a study of amphipathic peptide adhesion onto hydrophobic and hydrophilic surfaces, characterizing the adsorbed structure in relation to the water surrounding the molecule and trapped near the surface. Water is found to be especially important in mediating adhesion to hydrophilic surfaces, where it aids in solvating the peptide as well as facilitating interactions with the surface. In the second example, we look at adhesion of a multicomponent polymer adhesive using surface–bulk heterospectral correlation analysis, in which surface vibrational spectroscopy is combined with bulk infrared absorption to determine interfacial structure development during the evaporation of water. When acrylic acid is added to the polymer, there is a change in orientation of the polymer before an increase in population. This is opposite to what is observed when no additive is present. In our third example, we show how interfacial water provides a unique window into the surface microenvironment during bacterial adhesion, highlighting the role of solution conditions at the surface in cell attachment and biofilm growth. Changes in the nonlinear vibrational response of interfacial water reflect changes occurring in the pH and ionic strength only at the surface, due to the presence of polymeric adhesives secreted by the bacteria. These studies underline the importance of surface water in governing the structure of adhered molecules and in mediating changes in the interfacial environment as a result of adhesion and provide insight into a nanoscale region that is otherwise difficult to query. They also illustrate the importance of combining surface-sensitive and bulk spectroscopic probes with computer modeling to gain a better understanding of the interplay between water and adsorbate structure.



Peptides and proteins, Nonlinear optics, Surface interactions, Molecules, Hydrophobicity


Jarisz, T.; Roy, S.; & Hore, D. K. (2019). Surface water as a mediator and reporter of adhesion at aqueous interfaces. Accounts of Chemical Research, 51(9), 2287- 2295. DOI: 10.1021/acs.accounts.8b00258