Measuring photochemical kinetics in submonolayer films by transient ATR spectroscopy on a multimode planar waveguide

Anne M. Simon, Nicole E. Marucci, S. Scott Saavedra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Understanding the kinetics of reactions in molecular thin films can aid in the molecular engineering of organic photovoltaics and biosensors. We have coupled two analytical methods, transient absorbance spectroscopy (TAS) and attenuated total reflectance (ATR), in a relatively simple arrangement when compared with previous TAS/ATR instruments to interrogate molecular structure and photochemistry at interfaces. The multimode planar waveguide geometry provides a significant path length enhancement relative to a conventional transmission geometry, making it feasible to perform measurements on low-surface-coverage films. The performance of the instrument was assessed using a thin film composed of purple membrane (PM) fragments containing bacteriorhodopsin deposited onto PDAC, a positively charged polymer. The surface coverage of retinal chromophore in this film is ∼0.1 monolayer and its orientation distribution is anisotropic, with a mean tilt angle of 68° from surface normal. After photoinduced formation of the transient M state, the chromophore decays to the ground state in 4.4 ± 0.6 ms, equivalent to the decay of suspended PM fragments, which shows that deposition on PDAC does not alter M-state photokinetics. The surface coverage of the M state is calculated to be 2 pmol/cm 2, which is ∼1% of a close-packed monolayer. This work demonstrates that TAS/ATR can be used to probe structure and photochemical kinetics in molecular films at extremely low surface coverages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5762-5766
Number of pages5
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 15 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry


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