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Nanoparticle-Induced Disorder at Complex Liquid–Liquid Interfaces: Effects of Curvature and Compositional Synergy on Functional Surfaces

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Journal Name
ACS Nano
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0 to 0

The self-assembly of surfactant monolayers at interfaces plays a sweeping role in tasks ranging from household cleaning to the regulation of the respiratory system. The synergy between different nanoscale species at an interface can yield assemblies with exceptional properties, which enhance or modulate their function. However, understanding the mechanisms underlying coassembly, as well as the effects of intermolecular interactions at an interface, remains an emerging and challenging field of study. Herein, we study the interactions of gold nanoparticles striped with hydrophobic and hydrophilic ligands with phospholipids at a liquid–liquid interface and the resulting surface-bound complexes. We show that these nanoparticles, which are themselves minimally surface active, have a direct concentration-dependent effect on the rapid reduction of tension for assembling phospholipids at the interface, implying molecular coassembly. Through the use of sum frequency generation vibrational spectroscopy, we reveal that nanoparticles impart structural disorder to the lipid molecular layers, which is related to the increased volumes that amphiphiles can sample at the curved surface of a particle. The results strongly suggest that hydrophobic and electrostatic attractions imparted by nanoparticle functionalization drive lipid–nanoparticle complex assembly at the interface, which synergistically aids lipid adsorption even when lipids and nanoparticles approach the interface from opposite phases. The use of tensiometric and spectroscopic analyses reveals a physical picture of the system at the nanoscale, allowing for a quantitative analysis of the intermolecular behavior that can be extended to other systems.