Synthesis and Tracking of Fluorescent and Polymerization-Propelled Single-Molecule Nanomachines
Godoy Vargas, Jazmin
Tour, James M.
Doctor of Philosophy
This dissertation describes the synthesis of molecular machines designed to operate on surfaces (nanocars) or in the solution phase (nanosubmarines), and the study of their diffusion using fluorescence techniques. The design of these molecular machines is aimed to facilitate monitoring of their movement and incorporation of a source of energy for propulsion. To complement previous scanning tunneling microscopy studies of the translation of nanocars on surfaces, chapter 1 describes the synthesis of a family of fluorescently tagged nanocars. The nanocars were functionalized with a tetramethylrhodamine isothiocyanate (TRITC) fluorescent dye. Single-molecule fluorescence microscopy (SMFM) studies of one of these nanocars revealed that 25% of the nanocars moved on glass. The SMFM results also suggested that the dye hindered the mobility of the nanocars. Seeking to improve the mobility, chapter 2 presents the synthesis of a new set of fluorescent nanocars, featuring a 4,4-difluoro-4-bora-3a,4a-diaza-s-indacene (BODIPY) dye embedded in their axles. The mobility of these inherently fluorescent nanocars on glass was nearly double than that of their TRITC-tagged predecessors. Their diffusion was also studied on reactive-ion-etched glass, and amino-functionalized glass. The results showed that the mobility is affected by the substrate. To equip the nanocars with an energy input for propulsion, two nanocars functionalized with an olefin metathesis catalyst were synthesized, as described in chapter 3. The catalytic activity of these nanocars toward ring-opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP) in solution was similar to that of their parent catalysts. As an alternative approach to investigate if chemical propulsion through a ROMP process can be achieved at the molecular level, chapter 4 presents the synthesis of a fluorescent ROMP catalyst, termed a nanosubmarine, and the study of its diffusion using fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS). FCS results showed an increase of 20 ± 7% in the diffusion constant of this nanosubmarine in presence of its fuel, cis,cis-1,5-cyclooctadiene. Overall, the work accomplished in this dissertation constitutes a step forward toward development of easily tracked and highly mobile nanocars, and paves the way for the synthesis of truly nanosized chemically propelled molecular machines that operate in the solution phase.