Self-organizing bioinspired oligothiophene-oligopeptide-hybrids - A joint experimental and theoretical approach
The study of these molecular systems begun very recently and has been initiated by the parties involved. Using a joint experimental and theoretical approach by organic synthesis and molecular modelling with an atomistic approach, we will focus on novel self-organizing and “bioinspired” hybrid structures consisting of semiconducting oligo- or polythiophene and biomimetic peptide blocks capable of forming ordered noncovalently bonded supramolecular structures via reversible hydrogen bonding of the peptide blocks. Variations of the semiconducting block on one hand and the peptide sequence on the other hand are planned in order to understand the self-assembling behaviour of this new class of hybrid compounds. The amino acid sequences in the peptide block will be chosen according their tendency to either form b-sheet or helical structures. Besides the synthetic challenge to efficiently connect blocks with very different properties, we expect either synergistic or competitive behaviour with respect to their physical properties. In particular, besides the optoelectronic properties their self-assembly and the resulting superstructures will be investigated in detail. The two covalently linked blocks lead to an interplay between the intermolecular interactions in solution and the molecule-substrate interactions in the hybrid molecules. A special attention is paid to the investigation of the self-assembling properties in solution, the bulk and in adsorption layers.
The work is directed towards the development of new biomimetic ways of the formation of semiconducting fiber-like or helical supramolecular structures and conductive ultrathin films with mechanical properties mimicking e.g. natural silk. The vision is to develop materials with maximal conductivity, good mechanical strength and elasticity for various potential applications including flexible conductive coatings, electronic packaging, the use of conducting composites in thermoplastics for tuning surface resistivity, etc. The project requires experimental efforts with respect to synthesis, methods and characterization of the electronic and self-assembling properties, development of new theoretical methods, and massive computer simulations. Computational methods and atomistic modelling have a great potential to predict the superstructures and thus to optimise the synthesis condition and the final structure of these complex compounds. We believe that such an interdisciplinary approach will enable us to understand in detail the mechanisms of self-organization in existing systems and thus suggest new ways to produce modern materials with nanoscale heterogeneity, controllable structural order, and efficient functional properties, including photophysical and charge transport properties.