Speciation of l-DOPA on nanorutile as a function of pH and surface coverage using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS)

Namhey Lee, Daniel R. Hummer, Dimitri A. Sverjensky, Tijana Rajh, Robert M. Hazen, Andrew Steele, George D. Cody

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The adsorption configuration of organic molecules on mineral surfaces is of great interest because it can provide fundamental information for both engineered and natural systems. Here we have conducted surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) measurements to probe the attachment configurations of DOPA on nanorutile particles under different pH and surface coverage conditions. The Raman signal enhancement arises when a charge transfer (CT) complex forms between the nanoparticles and adsorbed DOPA. This Raman signal is exclusively from the surface-bound complexes with great sensitivity to the binding and orientation of the DOPA attached to the TiO2 surface. Our SERS spectra show peaks that progressively change with pH and surface coverage, indicating changing surface speciation. At low pH and surface coverage, DOPA adsorbs on the surface lying down, with probably three points of attachment, whereas at higher pH and surface coverage DOPA stands up on the surface as a species involving two attachment points via the two phenolic oxygens. Our results demonstrate experimentally the varying proportions of the two surface species as a function of environmental conditions consistent with published surface complexation modeling. This observation opens up the possibility to manipulate organic molecule attachment in engineered systems such as biodetection devices. Furthermore, it provides a perspective on the possible role of mineral surfaces in the chemical evolution of biomolecules on the early Earth. Adsorbed biomolecules on mineral surface in certain configurations may have had an advantage for subsequent condensation reactions, facilitating the formation of peptides.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17322-17330
Number of pages9
Issue number50
StatePublished - Dec 18 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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