Morphology, energetics and growth kinetics of diphenylalanine fibres

Phillip Mark Rodger, Caroline Montgomery, Giovanni Costantini, Alison Rodger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Diphenylalanine (FF) has been shown to self-assemble from water into heterogeneous fibres that are among the stiffest biomaterials known. How and why the fibres form has, however, not been clear. In this work, the nucleation and growth of FF fibres was investigated in a combined experimental and theoretical study. Scanning electron microscopy and optical microscopy showed FF fibre morphology to be hollow tubes of varying widths with occasional endcaps. Molecular dynamics simulations of FF nanostructures based on the bulk crystalline geometry demonstrated that axial growth stablilises the fibres and that structures with different widths show similar stabilities, in accord with the wide range of fibre widths observed experimentally. Linear dichroism (LD) spectroscopy was used to determine the thermal stability of the fibres, showing that FF solutions are fully monomeric at 70 °C and that fibres begin to form at ∼40 °C upon cooling. The LD kinetic studies indicated a nucleation-driven assembly with subsequent fibre growth, but a secondary nucleation process is required to explain the data.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4597-4604
Number of pages8
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
Volume23
Issue number8
Early online date5 Feb 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2021

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