Direct visualization of cooperative adsorption of a string-like molecule onto a solid

Sci Adv. 2022 Oct 14;8(41):eabn6349. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abn6349. Epub 2022 Oct 12.

Abstract

Natural systems, composite materials, and thin-film devices adsorb macromolecules in different phases onto their surfaces. In general, polymer chains form interfacial layers where their aggregation states and thermal molecular motions differ from the bulk. Here, we visualize well-defined double-stranded DNAs (dsDNAs) using atomic force microscopy and molecular dynamics simulations to clarify the adsorption mechanism of polymer chains onto solid surfaces. Initially, short and long dsDNAs are individually and cooperatively adsorbed, respectively. Cooperative adsorption involves intertwining of multiple chains. The dependence of adsorption on the chain affects the formation of the interfacial layer, realizing different mechanical properties of DNA/filler bulk composites. These findings will contribute to the development of light and durable polymer composites and films for various industrial, biomedical, and environmental applications.