Scholarly Works, Chemistry

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  • Polymer characterization by size-exclusion chromatography with multi-angle light scattering (SEC-MALS): a tutorial review
    Matson, John B.; Steele, Anna Q.; Mase, Jonathan D.; Schulz, Michael D. (Royal Society Chemistry, 2024)
    This tutorial review presents the theory and application of SEC-MALS with minimal equations and a focus on synthetic polymer characterization, serving as an entry point for polymer scientists who want to learn more about SEC-MALS. We discuss the principles of static light scattering, outline its capability to generate absolute weight-average molar mass values, and extend its application to SEC-MALS. Practical elements are emphasized, enabling researchers to appreciate how values for Mn, Mw, and Đ are determined in an SEC-MALS experiment and how experimental conditions and input values, such as the specific refractive index increment (dn/dc), influence the results. Several illustrative SEC-MALS experiments demonstrate the impact of separation quality on Mn (as opposed to Mw), the appearance of contaminants in SEC chromatograms from sample preparation, the influence of concentration on data quality, and how polymer topology affects molecular weight characterization in SEC. Finally, we address practical considerations, common issues, and persistent misconceptions.
  • High Modulus, Strut-like poly(ether ether ketone) Aerogels Produced from a Benign Solvent
    Spiering, Glenn A.; Godshall, Garrett F.; Moore, Robert B. (MDPI, 2024-04-22)
    Poly(ether ether ketone) (PEEK) was found to form gels in the benign solvent 1,3-diphenylacetone (DPA). Gelation of PEEK in DPA was found to form an interconnected, strut-like morphology composed of polymer axialites. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a strut-like morphology for PEEK aerogels. PEEK/DPA gels were prepared by first dissolving PEEK in DPA at 320 °C. Upon cooling to 50 °C, PEEK crystallizes and forms a gel in DPA. The PEEK/DPA phase diagram indicated that phase separation occurs by solid–liquid phase separation, implying that DPA is a good solvent for PEEK. The Flory–Huggins interaction parameter, calculated as χ12 = 0.093 for the PEEK/DPA system, confirmed that DPA is a good solvent for PEEK. PEEK aerogels were prepared by solvent exchanging DPA to water then freeze-drying. PEEK aerogels were found to have densities between 0.09 and 0.25 g/cm3, porosities between 80 and 93%, and surface areas between 200 and 225 m2/g, depending on the initial gel concentration. Using nitrogen adsorption analyses, PEEK aerogels were found to be mesoporous adsorbents, with mesopore sizes of about 8 nm, which formed between stacks of platelike crystalline lamellae. Scanning electron microscopy and X-ray scattering were utilized to elucidate the hierarchical structure of the PEEK aerogels. Morphological analysis found that the PEEK/DPA gels were composed of a highly nucleated network of PEEK axialites (i.e., aggregates of stacked crystalline lamellae). The highly connected axialite network imparted robust mechanical properties on PEEK aerogels, which were found to densify less upon freeze-drying than globular PEEK aerogel counterparts gelled from dichloroacetic acid (DCA) or 4-chlorphenol (4CP). PEEK aerogels formed from DPA were also found to have a modulus–density scaling that was far more efficient in supporting loads than the poorly connected aerogels formed from PEEK/DCA or PEEK/4CP solutions. The strut-like morphology in these new PEEK aerogels also significantly improved the modulus to a degree that is comparable to high-performance crosslinked aerogels based on polyimide and polyurea of comparable densities.
  • Expanding the Biosynthetic Toolbox: The Potential and Challenges of In Vitro Type II Polyketide Synthase Research
    Rivers, Max A. J.; Lowell, Andrew N. (MDPI, 2024-03-07)
    Type II polyketide synthase (PKS) systems are a rich source of structurally diverse polycyclic aromatic compounds with clinically relevant antibiotic and chemotherapeutic properties. The enzymes responsible for synthesizing the polyketide core, known collectively as the minimal cassette, hold potential for applications in synthetic biology. The minimal cassette provides polyketides of different chain lengths, which interact with other enzymes that are responsible for the varied cyclization patterns. Additionally, the type II PKS enzyme clusters offer a wide repertoire of tailoring enzymes for oxidations, glycosylations, cyclizations, and rearrangements. This review begins with the variety of chemical space accessible with type II PKS systems including the recently discovered highly reducing variants that produce polyalkenes instead of the archetypical polyketide motif. The main discussion analyzes the previous approaches with an emphasis on further research that is needed to characterize the minimal cassette enzymes in vitro. Finally, the potential type II PKS systems hold the potential to offer new tools in biocatalysis and synthetic biology, particularly in the production of novel antibiotics and biofuels.
  • Synthesis and Crystallographic Characterization of Heteroleptic Ir(III) Complexes Containing the N-oxide Functional Group and Crystallographic Characterization of Ir(III) N-oxide Precursors
    Stumbo, Emily E.; Hodge, Emarald K.; Williams, Matthew; Thornton, Diana A.; McMillen, Colin D.; Pienkos, Jared A. (MDPI, 2024-03-16)
    The N-oxide functional group has been exploited for synthetic strategies and drug design, and it has been utilized in imaging agents. Herein, we present rare examples of neutral heteroleptic cyclometallated Ir(III) compounds that contain an uncoordinated N-oxide functional group. These species, along with others described within, were verified by NMR, EA, HRMS, and single-crystal X-ray analysis. N-oxide-containing Ir(III) species were prepared selectively in high yields > 66% from chloro-bridged Ir(III) dimers with Acipimox, a picolinate-type ligand containing the N-oxide functional group. Non-N-oxide analogs were synthesized in a similar fashion (yields > 77%). Electrochemical comparison (cyclic voltammetry) indicates that the presence of an N-oxide functional group anodically shifts the reduction potential, suggesting that the N-oxide is acting as an electron-withdrawing group in these species. Crystallographic studies were pursued to examine the coordination behavior of these N-oxides compared to their non-oxidized congeners. The Ir(III) complexes with Acipimox indeed leave the N-oxide uncoordinated and exposed on the complexes. The uncoordinated N-oxide group is influential in directing the packing structures of these complexes directly through C-H···O and O···π interactions at the N-oxide. The crystallographic characterization of cationic Ir(III) compounds with uncoordinated nitrogen atoms is also presented. The C-H···N interactions between these complexes form a variety of dimers, finite chains, and continuous chains. Future work will focus on functionalizing the cationic Ir(III) species into their corresponding N-oxide derivatives and rigorously characterizing how the N-oxide functional group impacts the optical properties of transition metal compounds in both cationic and neutral complexes.
  • Additive Manufacturing of Poly(phenylene Sulfide) Aerogels via Simultaneous Material Extrusion and Thermally Induced Phase Separation
    Godshall, Garrett F.; Rau, Daniel A.; Williams, Christopher B.; Moore, Robert B. (Wiley-VCH GmbH, 2023-11)
    Additive manufacturing (AM) of aerogels increases the achievable geometric complexity, and affords fabrication of hierarchically porous structures. In this work, a custom heated material extrusion (MEX) device prints aerogels of poly(phenylene sulfide) (PPS), an engineering thermoplastic, via in situ thermally induced phase separation (TIPS). First, pre-prepared solid gel inks are dissolved at high temperatures in the heated extruder barrel to form a homogeneous polymer solution. Solutions are then extruded onto a room-temperature substrate, where printed roads maintain their bead shape and rapidly solidify via TIPS, thus enabling layer-wise MEX AM. Printed gels are converted to aerogels via postprocessing solvent exchange and freeze-drying. This work explores the effect of ink composition on printed aerogel morphology and thermomechanical properties. Scanning electron microscopy micrographs reveal complex hierarchical microstructures that are compositionally dependent. Printed aerogels demonstrate tailorable porosities (50.0–74.8%) and densities (0.345–0.684 g cm⁻³), which align well with cast aerogel analogs. Differential scanning calorimetry thermograms indicate printed aerogels are highly crystalline (≈43%), suggesting that printing does not inhibit the solidification process occurring during TIPS (polymer crystallization). Uniaxial compression testing reveals that compositionally dependent microstructure governs aerogel mechanical behavior, with compressive moduli ranging from 33.0 to 106.5 MPa.
  • NAPE-PLD regulates specific baseline affective behaviors but is dispensable for inflammatory hyperalgesia
    Chen, Irene; Murdaugh, Laura B.; Miliano, Cristina; Dong, Yuyang; Gregus, Ann M.; Buczynski, Matthew W. (Elsevier, 2023-06-14)
    N-acyl-ethanolamine (NAEs) serve as key endogenous lipid mediators as revealed by manipulation of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), the primary enzyme responsible for metabolizing NAEs. Preclinical studies focused on FAAH or NAE receptors indicate an important role for NAE signaling in nociception and affective behaviors. However, there is limited information on the role of NAE biosynthesis in these same behavioral paradigms. Biosynthesis of NAEs has been attributed largely to the enzyme N-acylphosphatidylethanolamine Phospholipase D (NAPE-PLD), one of three pathways capable of producing these bioactive lipids in the brain. In this report, we demonstrate that Nape-pld knockout (KO) mice displayed reduced sucrose preference and consumption, but other baseline anxiety-like or depression-like behaviors were unaltered. Additionally, we observed sex-dependent responses in thermal nociception and other baseline measures in wildtype (WT) mice that were absent in Nape-pld KO mice. In the Complete Freund's Adjuvant (CFA) model of inflammatory arthritis, WT mice exhibited sex-dependent changes in paw edema that were lost in Nape-pld KO mice. However, there was no effect of Nape-pld deletion on arthritic pain-like behaviors (grip force deficit and tactile allodynia) in either sex, indicating that while NAPE-PLD may alter local inflammation, it does not contribute to pain-like behaviors associated with inflammatory arthritis. Collectively, these findings indicate that chronic and systemic NAPE-PLD inactivation will likely be well-tolerated, warranting further pharmacological evaluation of this target in other disease indications.
  • Molecular modeling of Poly(methyl methacrylate-block-acrylonitrile) as Precursors of Porous Carbon Fibers
    Hao, Xi; Serrano, Joel; Liu, Guoliang; Cheng, Shengfeng (2023-04-22)
  • 2D Hierarchical Microbarcodes with Expanded Storage Capacity for Optical Multiplex and Information Encryption
    Worch, Josh; Xie, Yujie; Tong, Zaizai; Rho, Julia; Dove, Andrew; O'Reilly, Rachel (2023-11-28)
    The design of nanosegregated fluorescent tags/barcodes by geometrical patterning with precise dimensions and hierarchies could integrate multilevel optical information within one carrier and enhance microsized barcoding techniques for ultrahigh-density optical data storage and encryption. However, precise control of the spatial distribution in micro/nanosized matrices intrinsically limits the accessible barcoding applications in terms of material design and construction. Here, crystallization forces are leveraged to enable a rapid, programmable molecular packing and rapid epitaxial growth of fluorescent units in 2D via crystallization-driven self-assembly. The fluorescence encoding density, scalability, information storage capacity, and decoding techniques of the robust 2D polymeric barcoding platform are explored systematically. These results provide both a theoretical and an experimental foundation for expanding the fluorescence storage capacity, which is a longstanding challenge in state-of-the-art microbarcoding techniques and establish a generalized and adaptable coding platform for high-throughput analysis and optical multiplexing.
  • Click Step-Growth Polymerization and E/Z Stereochemistry Using Nucleophilic Thiol-yne/-ene Reactions: Applying Old Concepts for Practical Sustainable (Bio)Materials
    Worch, Joshua C.; Dove, Andrew P. (American Chemical Society, 2022-08-25)
    Polymer sustainability is synonymous with "bioderived polymers" and the zeitgeist of "using renewable feedstocks". However, this sentiment does not adequately encompass the requirements of sustainability in polymers. In addition to recycling considerations and mechanical performance, following green chemistry principles also needs to be maximized to improve the sustainability of polymer synthesis. The synthetic cost (i.e., maximizing atom economy, reducing chemical hazards, and lowering energy requirements) of producing polymers should be viewed as equally important to the monomer source (biomass vs petrol platform chemicals). Therefore, combining the use of renewable feedstocks with efficient syntheses and green chemistry principles is imperative to delivering truly sustainable polymers. The high efficiency, atom economy, and single reaction trajectories that define click chemistry reactions position them as ideal chemical approaches to synthesize polymers in a sustainable manner while simultaneously expanding the structural scope of accessible polymers from sustainably sourced chemicals.Click step-growth polymerization using the thiol-yne Michael addition, a reaction first reported over a century ago, has emerged as an extremely mild and atom-efficient pathway to yield high-performance polymers with controllable E/Z stereochemistry along the polymer backbone. Building on studies of aromatic thiol-yne polymers, around 10 years ago our group began investigating the thiol-yne reaction for the stereocontrolled synthesis of alkene-containing aliphatic polyesters. Our early studies established a convenient path to high-molecular-weight (>100 kDa) E-rich or Z-rich step-growth polymers by judiciously changing the catalyst and/or reaction solvent. This method has since been adapted to synthesize fast-degrading polyesters, high-performance polyamides, and resilient hydrogel biomaterials. Across several systems, we have observed dramatic differences in material properties among polymers with different alkene stereochemistry.We have also explored the analogous thiol-ene Michael reaction to create high-performance poly(ester-urethanes) with precise E/Z stereochemistry. In contrast to the stereoselective thiol-yne polymerization, here the use of monomers with predefined E/Z (geometric) isomerism (arising from either alkenes or the planar rigidity of ring units) affords polymers with total control over stereochemistry. This advancement has enabled the synthesis of tough, degradable materials that are derived from sustainable monomer feedstocks. Employing isomers of sugar-derived isohexides, bicyclic rigid-rings possessing geometric isomerism, led to degradable polymers with fundamentally opposing mechanical behavior (i.e., plastic vs elastic) simply by adjusting the stereochemistry of the isohexide. In this Account, we feature our investigation of thiol-yne/-ene click step-growth polymers and efforts to establish structure-property relationships toward degradable materials with practical mechanical performance in the context of sustainable polymers and/or biomaterials. We have paid attention to installing and controlling geometric isomerism by using these click reactions, an overarching objective of our work in this research area. The exquisite control of geometric isomerism that is possible within polymer backbones, as enabled by convenient click chemistry reactions, showcases a powerful approach to creating multipurpose degradable polymers.
  • Installing a Single Monomer within Acrylic Polymers Using Photoredox Catalysis
    Baker, Jared G.; Zhang, Richard; Figg, C. Adrian (American Chemical Society, 2023-12-21)
    Incorporating exactly one monomer at a defined position during a chain polymerization is exceptionally challenging due to the statistical nature of monomer addition. Herein, photoinduced electron/energy transfer (PET) enables the incorporation of exactly one vinyl ether into polyacrylates synthesized via reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization. Near-quantitative addition (>96%) of a single vinyl ether is achieved while retaining >99% of the thiocarbonylthio chain ends. Kinetic studies reveal that performing the reactions at 2 °C limits unwanted chain breaking events. Finally, the syntheses of diblock copolymers are reported where molecular weights and dispersities are well-controlled on either side of the vinyl ether. Overall, this report introduces an approach to access acrylic copolymers containing exactly one chemical handle at a defined position, enabling novel macromolecular architectures to probe structure-function properties, introduce sites for de/reconstruction, store information, etc.
  • Spatially-Encoding Hydrogels With DNA to Control Cell Signaling
    Ramani, Namrata; Figg, C. Adrian; Anderson, Alex J.; Winegar, Peter H.; Oh, EunBi; Ebrahimi, Sasha B.; Samanta, Devleena; Mirkin, Chad A. (Wiley, 2023-09)
    Patterning biomolecules in synthetic hydrogels offers routes to visualize and learn how spatially-encoded cues modulate cell behavior (e.g., proliferation, differentiation, migration, and apoptosis). However, investigating the role of multiple, spatially defined biochemical cues within a single hydrogel matrix remains challenging because of the limited number of orthogonal bioconjugation reactions available for patterning. Herein, a method to pattern multiple oligonucleotide sequences in hydrogels using thiol-yne photochemistry is introduced. Rapid hydrogel photopatterning of hydrogels with micron resolution DNA features (≈1.5 µm) and control over DNA density are achieved over centimeter-scale areas using mask-free digital photolithography. Sequence-specific DNA interactions are then used to reversibly tether biomolecules to patterned regions, demonstrating chemical control over individual patterned domains. Last, localized cell signaling is shown using patterned protein-DNA conjugates to selectively activate cells on patterned areas. Overall, this work introduces a synthetic method to achieve multiplexed micron resolution patterns of biomolecules onto hydrogel scaffolds, providing a platform to study complex spatially-encoded cellular signaling environments.
  • Operando characterization and regulation of metal dissolution and redeposition dynamics near battery electrode surface
    Zhang, Yuxin; Hu, Anyang; Xia, Dawei; Hwang, Sooyeon; Sainio, Sami; Nordlund, Dennis; Michel, F. Marc; Moore, Robert B.; Li, Luxi; Lin, Feng (Nature Portfolio, 2023-07)
    Mn dissolution has been a long-standing, ubiquitous issue that negatively impacts the performance of Mn-based battery materials. Mn dissolution involves complex chemical and structural transformations at the electrode–electrolyte interface. The continuously evolving electrode–electrolyte interface has posed great challenges for characterizing the dynamic interfacial process and quantitatively establishing the correlation with battery performance. In this study, we visualize and quantify the temporally and spatially resolved Mn dissolution/redeposition (D/R) dynamics of electrochemically operating Mn-containing cathodes. The particle-level and electrode-level analyses reveal that the D/R dynamics is associated with distinct interfacial degradation mechanisms at different states of charge. Our results statistically differentiate the contributions of surface reconstruction and Jahn–Teller distortion to the Mn dissolution at different operating voltages. Introducing sulfonated polymers (Nafion) into composite electrodes can modulate the D/R dynamics by trapping the dissolved Mn species and rapidly establishing local Mn D/R equilibrium. This work represents an inaugural effort to pinpoint the chemical and structural transformations responsible for Mn dissolution via an operando synchrotron study and develops an effective method to regulate Mn interfacial dynamics for improving battery performance.
  • Photoelectrochemical water oxidation by a MOF/semiconductor composite
    Gibbons, Bradley; Cairnie, Daniel R.; Thomas, Benjamin; Yang, Xiaozhou; Ilic, Stefan; Morris, Amanda J. (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2023-05)
    Artificial photosynthesis is one of the most promising forms of renewable fuel production, due to the abundance of water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight. However, the water oxidation reaction remains a significant bottleneck due to the high thermodynamic and kinetic requirements of the four-electron process. While significant work has been done on the development of catalysts for water splitting, many of the catalysts reported to date operate at high overpotentials or with the use of sacrificial oxidants to drive the reaction. Here, we present a catalyst embedded metal-organic framework (MOF)/ semiconductor composite that performs photoelectrochemical oxidation of water at a formal underpotential. Ru-UiO-67 (where Ru stands for the water oxidation catalyst [Ru(tpy)(dcbpy)OH2](2+) (tpy = 2,2':6',2''-terpyridine, dcbpy = 5,5-dicarboxy-2,2'-bipyridine)) has been previously shown to be active for water oxidation under both chemical and electrochemical conditions, but here we demonstrate, for the first time, incorporation of a light harvesting n-type semiconductor as a base photoelectrode. RuUiO-67/WO3 is active for photoelectrochemical water oxidation at a thermodynamic underpotential ( h approximate to 200 mV; E-onset = 600 mV vs. NHE), and incorporation of a molecular catalyst onto the oxide layer increases efficiency of charge transport and separation over bare WO3. The charge-separation process was evaluated with ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy (ufTA) and photocurrent density measurements. These studies suggest that a key contributor to the photocatalytic process involves a hole transfer from excited WO* (3) to Ru-UiO-67. To our knowledge, this is the first report of a MOFbased catalyst active for water oxidation at a thermodynamic underpotential, a key step towards lightdriven water oxidation.
  • SparseMaps-A systematic infrastructure for reduced-scaling electronic structure methods. VI. Linear-scaling explicitly correlated N-electron valence state perturbation theory with pair natural orbital
    Guo, Yang; Pavosevic, Fabijan; Sivalingam, Kantharuban; Becker, Ute; Valeev, Edward F. F.; Neese, Frank (AIP Publishing, 2023-03)
    In this work, a linear scaling explicitly correlated N-electron valence state perturbation theory (NEVPT2-F12) is presented. By using the idea of a domain-based local pair natural orbital (DLPNO), computational scaling of the conventional NEVPT2-F12 is reduced to near-linear scaling. For low-lying excited states of organic molecules, the excitation energies predicted by DLPNO-NEVPT2-F12 are as accurate as the exact NEVPT2-F12 results. Some cluster models of rhodopsin are studied using the new algorithm. Our new method is able to study systems with more than 3300 basis functions and an active space containing 12 p-electrons and 12 p-orbitals. However, even larger calculations or active spaces would still be feasible.
  • Uncorrelated Lithium-Ion Hopping in a Dynamic Solvent-Anion Network
    Yu, Deyang; Troya, Diego; Korovich, Andrew G.; Bostwick, Joshua E.; Colby, Ralph H.; Madsen, Louis A. (American Chemical Society, 2023-03)
    Lithium batteries rely crucially on fast charge and mass transport of Li+ in the electrolyte. For liquid and polymer electrolytes with added lithium salts, Li+ couples to the counter-anion to form ionic clusters that produce inefficient Li+ transport and lead to Li dendrite formation. Quantification of Li+ transport in glycerol-salt electrolytes via NMR experiments and MD simulations reveals a surprising Li+-hopping mechanism. The Li+ transference number, measured by ion-specific electrophoretic NMR, can reach 0.7, and Li+ diffusion does not correlate with nearby ion motions, even at high salt concentration. Glycerol's high density of hydroxyl groups increases ion dissociation and slows anion diffusion, while the close proximity of hydroxyls and anions lowers local energy barriers, facilitating Li+ hopping. This system represents a bridge between liquid and inorganic solid electrolytes, thus motivating new molecular designs for liquid and polymer electrolytes to enable the uncorrelated Li+-hopping transport needed for fast-charging and all-solid-state batteries.
  • Polyethylene Glycol 20k. Does It Fluoresce?
    Laatsch, Bethany F.; Brandt, Michael; Finke, Brianna; Fossum, Carl J.; Wackett, Miles J.; Lowater, Harrison R.; Narkiewicz-Jodko, Alex; Le, Christine N.; Yang, Thao; Glogowski, Elizabeth M.; Bailey-Hartsel, Scott C.; Bhattacharyya, Sudeep; Hati, Sanchita (American Chemical Society, 2023-04)
    Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is a polyether compound commonly used in biological research and medicine because it is biologically inert. This simple polymer exists in variable chain lengths (and molecular weights). As they are devoid of any contiguous pi-system, PEGs are expected to lack fluorescence properties. However, recent studies suggested the occurrence of fluorescence properties in non-traditional fluorophores like PEGs. Herein, a thorough investigation has been conducted to explore if PEG 20k fluoresces. Results of this combined experimental and computational study suggested that although PEG 20k could exhibit "through-space" delocalization of lone pairs of electrons in aggregates/clusters, formed via intermolecular and intramolecular interactions, the actual contributor of fluorescence between 300 and 400 nm is the stabilizer molecule, i.e., 3-tert-butyl-4-hydroxyanisole present in the commercially available PEG 20k. Therefore, the reported fluorescence properties of PEG should be taken with a grain of salt, warranting further investigation.
  • Enzyme-Triggered Chemodynamic Therapy via a Peptide-H2S Donor Conjugate with Complexed Fe2+
    Zhu, Yumeng; Archer, William R.; Morales, Katlyn F.; Schulz, Michael D.; Wang, Yin; Matson, John B. (Wiley-V C H Verlag, 2023-04)
    Inducing high levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) inside tumor cells is a cancer therapy method termed chemodynamic therapy (CDT). Relying on delivery of Fenton reaction promoters such as Fe2+, CDT takes advantage of overproduced ROS in the tumor microenvironment. We developed a peptide-H2S donor conjugate, complexed with Fe2+, termed AAN-PTC-Fe2+. The AAN tripeptide was specifically cleaved by legumain, an enzyme overexpressed in glioma cells, to release carbonyl sulfide (COS). Hydrolysis of COS by carbonic anhydrase formed H2S, an inhibitor of catalase, an enzyme that detoxifies H2O2. Fe2+ and H2S together increased intracellular ROS levels and decreased viability in C6 glioma cells compared with controls lacking either Fe2+, the AAN sequence, or the ability to generate H2S. AAN-PTC-Fe2+ performed better than temezolimide while exhibiting no cytotoxicity toward H9C2 cardiomyocytes. This study provides an H2S-amplified, enzyme-responsive platform for synergistic cancer treatment.
  • Supramolecular Peptide Nanostructures Regulate Catalytic Efficiency and Selectivity
    Li, Zhao; Joshi, Soumil Y.; Wang, Yin; Deshmukh, Sanket A.; Matson, John B. (Wiley-V C H, 2023-05)
    We report three constitutionally isomeric tetrapeptides, each comprising one glutamic acid (E) residue, one histidine (H) residue, and two lysine (K-S) residues functionalized with side-chain hydrophobic S-aroylthiooxime (SATO) groups. Depending on the order of amino acids, these amphiphilic peptides self-assembled in aqueous solution into different nanostructures:nanoribbons, a mixture of nanotoroids and nanoribbons, or nanocoils. Each nanostructure catalyzed hydrolysis of a model substrate, with the nanocoils exhibiting the greatest rate enhancement and the highest enzymatic efficiency. Coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations, analyzed with unsupervised machine learning, revealed clusters of H residues in hydrophobic pockets along the outer edge of the nanocoils, providing insight for the observed catalytic rate enhancement. Finally, all three supramolecular nanostructures catalyzed hydrolysis of the l-substrate only when a pair of enantiomeric Boc-l/d-Phe-ONp substrates were tested. This study highlights how subtle molecular-level changes can influence supramolecular nanostructures, and ultimately affect catalytic efficiency.
  • The Utilisation of Hydrogels for iPSC-Cardiomyocyte Research
    Patel, Leena; Worch, Joshua C.; Dove, Andrew P.; Gehmlich, Katja (MDPI, 2023-06-10)
    Cardiac fibroblasts’ (FBs) and cardiomyocytes’ (CMs) behaviour and morphology are influenced by their environment such as remodelling of the myocardium, thus highlighting the importance of biomaterial substrates in cell culture. Biomaterials have emerged as important tools for the development of physiological models, due to the range of adaptable properties of these materials, such as degradability and biocompatibility. Biomaterial hydrogels can act as alternative substrates for cellular studies, which have been particularly key to the progression of the cardiovascular field. This review will focus on the role of hydrogels in cardiac research, specifically the use of natural and synthetic biomaterials such as hyaluronic acid, polydimethylsiloxane and polyethylene glycol for culturing induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (iPSC-CMs). The ability to fine-tune mechanical properties such as stiffness and the versatility of biomaterials is assessed, alongside applications of hydrogels with iPSC-CMs. Natural hydrogels often display higher biocompatibility with iPSC-CMs but often degrade quicker, whereas synthetic hydrogels can be modified to facilitate cell attachment and decrease degradation rates. iPSC-CM structure and electrophysiology can be assessed on natural and synthetic hydrogels, often resolving issues such as immaturity of iPSC-CMs. Biomaterial hydrogels can thus provide a more physiological model of the cardiac extracellular matrix compared to traditional 2D models, with the cardiac field expansively utilising hydrogels to recapitulate disease conditions such as stiffness, encourage alignment of iPSC-CMs and facilitate further model development such as engineered heart tissues (EHTs).
  • Spatiotemporal Visualization and Chemical Identification of the Metal Diffusion Layer at the Electrochemical Interface
    Zhang, Yuxin; Hu, Anyang; Maxey, Evan; Li, Luxi; Lin, Feng (Electrochemical Society, 2022-10)
    The diffusion layer created by transition metal (TM) dissolution is ubiquitous at the electrochemical solid-liquid interface and plays a key role in determining electrochemical performance. Tracking the spatiotemporal dynamics of the diffusion layer has remained an unresolved challenge. With spatially resolved synchrotron X-ray fluorescence microscopy and micro-X-ray absorption spectroscopy, we demonstrate the in situ visualization and chemical identification of the dynamic diffusion layer near the electrode surface under electrochemical operating conditions. Our method allows for direct mapping of the reactive electrochemical interface and provides insights into engineering the diffusion layer for improving electrochemical performance.