Electromechanical Properties of an Ultrathin Layer of Directionally Aligned Helical Polypeptides

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Science  02 Jan 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5347, pp. 57-60
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5347.57

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The electromechanical properties of a monomolecular film of poly-γ-benzyl-l-glutamate (PBLG) 15 nanometers thick grafted at the carboxyl-terminal end to a flat aluminum surface were measured. The field-induced change in film thickness, dominated by a large inverse-piezoelectric effect, demonstrates that the “grafting-from” technique forces the chains into a parallel arrangement. The mechanical plate modulus of the film as determined by electrostriction agrees with the theoretical prediction for a single PBLG molecule along the chain axis. The experiments show that ultrathin polypeptide layers with large persistent polarization can be fabricated by the grafting approach.

  • * Present address: Tokyo Institute of Technology, Research Laboratory of Resources Utilization, 4259 Nagatsuta, Midori-ku, Yokohama, 226 Japan.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: wegner{at}

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