Modulating artificial membrane morphology: pH-induced chromatic transition and nanostructural transformation of a bolaamphiphilic conjugated polymer from blue helical ribbons to red nanofibers.

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Orthopedics and Physical Rehabilitation

Publication Date


Document Type



Acetylene; Glutamic Acid; Hydrogen-Ion Concentration; Lipids; Membranes, Artificial; Models, Chemical; Molecular Conformation; Molecular Mimicry; Polyacetylenes; Polymers


Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology | Orthopedics | Rehabilitation and Therapy


Design and characterization of helical ribbon assemblies of a bolaamphiphilic conjugated polymer and their color-coded transformation into nanofibers are described. An L-glutamic acid modified bolaamphiphilic diacetylene lipid was synthesized and self-assembled into right-handed helical ribbons with micron scale length and nano scale thickness under mild conditions. The ribbon structures were further stabilized by polymerizing well-aligned diacetylene units to form bisfunctional polydiacetylenes (PDAs). Transitions from flat sheets to helical ribbons and tubes were observed by transmission electron microscopy. The helical ribbons appear to originate from the rupture of flat sheets along domain edges and the peeling off between stacked lipid layers. These results point to the applicability of chiral packing theory in bolaamphiphilic supramolecular assemblies. Contact mode atomic force microscopy observations revealed that high order existed in the surface packing arrangement. Hexagonal and pseudorectangular packings were observed in flat and twisted regions of the ribbons, respectively, suggesting a correlation between microscopic morphologies and nanoscopic packing arrangements. The tricarboxylate functionalities of the bolaamphiphilic lipid provide a handle for the manipulation of the bisfunctional PDAs' morphology. Increasing solution pH caused the fraying of helical ribbons into nanofibers accompanied by a sharp blue-to-red chromatic transition. A dramatic change in circular dichroism spectra was observed during this process, suggesting the loss of chirality in packing. A model is proposed to account for the pH-induced morphological change and chromatic transition. The color-coded transition between two distinct microstructures would be useful in the design of sensors and other "smart" nanomaterials requiring defined molecular templates.


Acetylene, Glutamic Acid, Hydrogen-Ion Concentration, Lipids, Membranes, Artificial, Models, Chemical, Molecular Conformation, Molecular Mimicry, Polyacetylenes, Polymers


J Am Chem Soc. 2001 Apr 11;123(14):3205-13.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of the American Chemical Society


At the time of publication, Jie Song was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

PubMed ID