We have studied the pH-dependent interaction between mycolic acid (MA) monolayers and hydrophobic and hydrophilic surfaces using molecular (colloidal probe) force spectroscopy. In both cases, hydrophobic and hydrophilic monolayers (prepared by Langmuir-Blodgett and Langmuir-Schaefer deposition on silicon or hydrophobized silicon substrates, respectively) were studied. The force spectroscopy data, fitted with classical DLVO (Derjaguin, Landau, Verwey, and Overbeek) theory to examine the contribution of electrostatic and van der Waals forces, revealed that electrostatic forces are the dominant contribution to the repulsive force between the approaching colloidal probe and MA monolayers. The good agreement between data and the DLVO model suggest that beyond a few nm away from the surface, hydrophobic, hydration, and specific chemical bonding are unlikely to contribute to any significant extent to the interaction energy between the probe and the surface. The pH-dependent conformation of MA molecules in the monolayer at the solid-liquid interface was studied by ellipsometry, neutron reflectometry, and with a quartz crystal microbalance. Monolayers prepared by the Langmuir-Blodgett method demonstrated a distinct pH-responsive behaviour, while monolayers prepared by the Langmuir-Schaefer method were less sensitive to pH variation. It was found that the attachment of water molecules plays a vital role in determining the conformation of the MA monolayers. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved
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