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Short single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) has emerged as the natural polymer of choice for noncovalently functionalizing photoluminescent single-walled carbon nanotubes. In addition, specific empirically identified DNA sequences can be used to separate single species (chiralities) of nanotubes, with an exceptionally high purity. Currently, only limited general principles exist for designing DNA–nanotube hybrids amenable to separation processes, due in part to an incomplete understanding of the fundamental interactions between a DNA sequence and a specific nanotube structure, whereas even less is known in the design of nanotube-based sensors with determined optical properties. We therefore developed a combined experimental and analysis platform on the basis of time-resolved near-infrared fluorescence spectroscopy to extract the complete set of photoluminescence parameters that characterizes DNA–nanotube hybrids. Here, we systematically investigated the affinity of the d(GT)n oligonucleotide family for structurally defined carbon nanotubes by measuring photoluminescence response of the nanotube upon oligonucleotide displacement. We found, surprisingly, that the rate of displacement of the oligonucleotides is independent of the coverage on the nanotube, as inferred through the intrinsic optical properties of the hybrid. The kinetics of intensity modulation is essentially a single-exponential, and the time constants, which quantify the stability of DNA binding, span an order of magnitude. Surprisingly, these time constants do not depend on the intrinsic optical parameters within the hybrids, suggesting that the DNA–nanotube stability is not due to increased nanotube surface coverage by DNA. Further, a principal component analysis of the excitation and emission shifts along with intensity enhancement at equilibrium accurately identified the (8,6) nanotube as the partner chirality to (GT)6 ssDNA. When combined, the chirality-resolved equilibrium and kinetics data can guide the development of the DNA–nanotube pairs, with tunable stability and optical modulation. Additionally, this high-throughput optical platform could function as a primary screen for mapping the DNA-chirality recognition phase space.

Roxbury_DNACarbonNanotube_2017_SupplInfo.docx (1812 kB)
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