2016 Volume 65 Issue 5 Pages 431-439
Molecular self-assembly has become a popular tool to prepare nanomaterials with potential applications, such as ion-responsive detection of Hg2+ in aqueous solutions. In this study, FFACD aromatic pentapeptides, whose N-terminuses were protected by carboxyl (Ac-FFACD) or a 9-fluorenylmethoxycarbonyl group (Fmoc-FFACD), were chosen as building blocks to produce nanostructures in solutions. Based on the preliminary determination of the critical aggregation concentration (CAC) of Ac-FFACD and Fmoc-FFACD aromatic pentapeptides in water, the order of magnitude of which is 10–5 mol·L–1, self-assembled spiral and networked nanowires can be easily obtained over a range of concentrations. These nanowires were characterized by transmission electron microscopy (TEM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The self-assembled spiral and networked nanowires were designed to be used as templates for preparing CdS quantum dots (QDs) in-situ at room temperature. The peptide-functionalized, nanowire-encapsulated CdS QDs can be used for rapid, sensitive, and selective detection of trace amounts of mercuric ions (Hg2+) in aqueous solutions. This method enables rapid, linear detection (the linear correlation coefficients are 0.9972 of ΔF = 257.09 + 3.58 cHg2+ for Ac-FFACD and 0.9994 of ΔF = 48.13 + 32.96 cHg2+ for Fmoc-FFACD) with the Hg2+ limit of detection at 300.85 ng·L–1 and 32.09 ng·L–1 for Ac-FFACD and Fmoc-FFACD, respectively. The supramolecular, self-assembled nanowires, fabricated from the two aromatic pentapeptides and having encapsulated QDs, exhibit superior properties attributable to the large loading capacity and the coordination sites of these peptides with Hg2+. These structures can serve as novel Hg2+ sensors and have possible applications for detection of various targets in scientific and engineering systems.