Oxidized polyethylene films for orienting polar molecules for linear dichroism spectroscopy
Stretched polyethylene (PE) films have been used to orient small molecules for decades by depositing solutions on their surface and allowing the solvent to evaporate leaving the analyte absorbed on the polymer film. However, the non-polar hydrophobic nature of PE is an obstacle to aligning polar molecules and biological samples. In this work PE film was treated with oxygen plasma in order to increase surface hydrophilicity. Different treatment conditions were evaluated using contact angle measurement and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Treated PE (PEOX) films are shown to be able to align molecules of different polarities including progesterone, 1-pyrenecarboxaldehyde, 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) and anthracene. The degree of alignment of each molecule was studied by running series of linear dichroism (LD) experiments and the polarizations of electronic transition moments were determined. For the first time optimal conditions (such as stretching factor and concentration of the sample) for stretched film LD were determined. PEOX aligning ability was compared to that of normal PE films. Progesterone showed a slightly better alignment on PEOX than PE. 1-Pyrenecarboxaldehyde oriented differently on the two different films which enabled transition moment assignment for this low symmetry molecule. DAPI (which does not align on PE) aligned well on PEOX and enabled us to obtain better LD data than had previously been collected with polyvinyl alcohol. Anthracene alignment and formation of dimers and higher order structures were studied in much more detail than previously possible, showing a variety of assemblies on PE and PEOX films.