Letter | Published:

Mechanochemistry: targeted delivery of single molecules

Nature Nanotechnology volume 1, pages 122125 (2006) | Download Citation

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Abstract

The use of scanning probe microscopy-based techniques to manipulate single molecules1 and deliver them in a precisely controlled manner to a specific target represents a significant nanotechnological challenge2,3. The ultimate physical limit in the design and fabrication of organic surfaces can be reached using this approach. Here we show that the atomic force microscope (AFM), which has been used extensively to investigate the stretching of individual molecules4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12, can deliver and immobilize single molecules, one at a time, on a surface. Reactive polymer molecules, attached at one end to an AFM tip, are brought into contact with a modified silicon substrate to which they become linked by a chemical reaction. When the AFM tip is pulled away from the surface, the resulting mechanical force causes the weakest bond — the one between the tip and polymer — to break. This process transfers the polymer molecule to the substrate where it can be modified by further chemical reactions.

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Acknowledgements

We thank C.-A. Fustin (UCL-CMAT) for preparing the amino-functionalized silicon substrates. The work was supported by the Belgian Science Policy in the frame of IUAP V/03 “Supramolecular Chemistry & Supramolecular Catalysis”.

Author information

Author notes

    • Anne-Sophie Duwez

    Present address: Department of Chemistry, University of Liège, B6 Sart-Tilman, 4000 Liège, Belgium

    • Stéphane Cuenot

    Present address: Institut des Matériaux Jean Rouxel, Rue de la Houssinière 2, 44322 Nantes Cedex 3, France

Affiliations

  1. Unité de Chimie et Physique des Hauts Polymères and Research Center in Micro- and Nanoscopic Materials and Electronic Devices, Université catholique de Louvain, Place Croix du Sud 1, 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

    • Anne-Sophie Duwez
    •  & Stéphane Cuenot
  2. Centre d'Etude et de Recherche sur les Macromolécules, University of Liège, B6 Sart-Tilman, 4000 Liège, Belgium

    • Christine Jérôme
    • , Sabine Gabriel
    •  & Robert Jérôme
  3. Dipartimento di Chimica “G. Ciamician”, Università di Bologna, V. F. Selmi 2, 40126 Bologna, Italy

    • Stefania Rapino
    •  & Francesco Zerbetto

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Contributions

A.S.D. conceived and designed the experiments, S.C. performed the experiments, and S.G. and C.J. prepared the functionalized AFM tips and contributed to the experimental design. S.R. and F.Z. performed the calculations. A.S.D., S.C., S.R. and F.Z. analysed the data and discussed the results. A.S.D. and F.Z. co-wrote the paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Anne-Sophie Duwez or Stéphane Cuenot.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2006.92

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