Methods and applications of nanoelectrochemical techniques

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Hydrogenases catalyze the interconversion of protons, electrons, and hydrogen according to the reaction: 2H+ + 2e- <-> H2 while using only earth abundant metals, namely nickel and iron for catalysis.

Hydrogenases catalyze the interconversion of protons, electrons, and hydrogen according to the reaction: 2H+ + 2e- <-> H2 while using only earth abundant metals, namely nickel and iron for catalysis. The enzymatic turnover of Clostridium acetobutylicum [FeFe]-hydrogenase has been investigated through the use of electrochemical and scanning probe techniques. Scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) imaging revealed sub-monolayer surface coverage. Cyclic voltammetry yielded a catalytic, cathodic hydrogen production signal similar to that observed for a platinum electrode. From the direct observation of single enzymes and the macroscopic electrochemical measurements obtained from the same electrode, the apparent turnover frequency (TOF) per single enzyme molecule as a function of potential was determined. The TOF at 0.7 V vs. Ag/AgCl for the four SAMs yielded a decay constant for electronic coupling (β) through the SAM of ~ 0.82 Å -1, in excellent agreement with published values for similar SAMs. One mechanism used by plants to protect against damage is called nonphotochemical quenching (NPQ). Triggered by low pH in the thylakoid lumen, NPQ leads to conversion of excess excitation energy in the antenna system to heat before it can initiate production of harmful chemical species by photosynthetic reaction centers. Here a synthetic hexad molecule that functionally mimics the role of the antenna in NPQ is described. When the hexad is dissolved in an organic solvent, five zinc porphyrin antenna moieties absorb light, exchange excitation energy, and ultimately decay by normal photophysical processes. However, when acid is added, a pH-sensitive dye moiety is converted to a form that rapidly quenches the first excited singlet states of all five porphyrins, converting the excitation energy to heat and rendering the porphyrins kinetically incompetent to perform useful photochemistry. Charge transport was also studied in single-molecule junctions formed with a 1,7-pyrrolidine-substituted 3,4,9,10-Perylenetetracarboxylic diimide (PTCDI) molecule. A reduction in the highest occupied (HOMO) and lowest unoccupied (LUMO) molecular orbitals energy gap due to the electronic properties of the substituents is seen when compared to an unsubstituted-PTCDI. The small HOMO-LUMO energy gap allows for switching between electron- and hole-dominated charge transport with a gate voltage, thus demonstrating a single-molecule ambipolar field effect transistor.