Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Single-molecule protein arrays enabled by scanning probe block copolymer lithography.

PMID 22106270


The ability to control the placement of individual protein molecules on surfaces could enable advances in a wide range of areas, from the development of nanoscale biomolecular devices to fundamental studies in cell biology. Such control, however, remains a challenge in nanobiotechnology due to the limitations of current lithographic techniques. Herein we report an approach that combines scanning probe block copolymer lithography with site-selective immobilization strategies to create arrays of proteins down to the single-molecule level with arbitrary pattern control. Scanning probe block copolymer lithography was used to synthesize individual sub-10-nm single crystal gold nanoparticles that can act as scaffolds for the adsorption of functionalized alkylthiol monolayers, which facilitate the immobilization of specific proteins. The number of protein molecules that adsorb onto the nanoparticles is dependent upon particle size; when the particle size approaches the dimensions of a protein molecule, each particle can support a single protein. This was demonstrated with both gold nanoparticle and quantum dot labeling coupled with transmission electron microscopy imaging experiments. The immobilized proteins remain bioactive, as evidenced by enzymatic assays and antigen-antibody binding experiments. Importantly, this approach to generate single-biomolecule arrays is, in principle, applicable to many parallelized cantilever and cantilever-free scanning probe molecular printing methods.