The distance dependence and kinetics of the heterogeneous electron transfer (ET) reaction for the redox protein azurin adsorbed to an electrode modified with a gold nanoparticle film are investigated using cyclic voltammetry. The nanoparticle films are comprised of nonaqueous nanoparticles, known as monolayer-protected clusters (MPCs), which are covalently networked with dithiol linkers. The MPC film assembly serves as an alternative adsorption platform to the traditional alkanethiolate self-assembled monolayer (SAM) modified electrodes that are commonly employed to study the ET kinetics of immobilized redox proteins, a strategy known as protein monolayer electrochemistry. Voltammetric analysis of the ET kinetics for azurin adsorbed to SAMs of increasing chain length results in quasi-reversible voltammetry with significant peak splitting. We observed rate constants (k°ET) of 12−20 s−1 for the protein at SAMs of shorter alkanethiolates that decays exponentially (β = 0.9/CH2 or 0.8/Å) at SAMs of longer alkanethiolates (9−11 methylene units) or an estimated distance of 1.23 nm and is representative of classical electronic tunneling behavior over increasing distance. Azurin adsorbed to the MPC film platforms of increasing thickness results in reversible voltammetry with very little voltammetric peaks splitting and nearly negligible decay of the ET rate over significant distances up to 20 nm. The apparent lack of distance dependence for heterogeneous ET reactions at MPC film assemblies is attributed to a two-step mechanism involving extremely fast electronic hopping through the MPC film architecture. These results suggest that MPC platforms may be used in protein monolayer electrochemistry to create adsorption platforms of higher architecture that can accommodate greater than monolayer protein coverage and increase the Faradaic signal, a finding with significant implications for amperometric biosensor design and development.

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Copyright © 2009 Langmuir. Article first published online: 13 AUG 2009.

DOI: 10.1021/la9020367.

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