Quantum Defects as a Toolbox for the Covalent Functionalization of Carbon Nanotubes with Peptides and Proteins

Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2020 Sep 28;59(40):17732-17738. doi: 10.1002/anie.202003825. Epub 2020 Jul 13.


Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) are a 1D nanomaterial that shows fluorescence in the near-infrared (NIR, >800 nm). In the past, covalent chemistry was less explored to functionalize SWCNTs as it impairs NIR emission. However, certain sp3 defects (quantum defects) in the carbon lattice have emerged that preserve NIR fluorescence and even introduce a new, red-shifted emission peak. Here, we report on quantum defects, introduced using light-driven diazonium chemistry, that serve as anchor points for peptides and proteins. We show that maleimide anchors allow conjugation of cysteine-containing proteins such as a GFP-binding nanobody. In addition, an Fmoc-protected phenylalanine defect serves as a starting point for conjugation of visible fluorophores to create multicolor SWCNTs and in situ peptide synthesis directly on the nanotube. Therefore, these quantum defects are a versatile platform to tailor both the nanotube's photophysical properties as well as their surface chemistry.

Keywords: bioconjugation; nanobodies; nanotubes; peptides; quantum defects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't