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Schmidt, Sebastian W.; Pill, Michael F.; Kersch, Alfred; Clausen-Schaumann, Hauke; Beyer, Martin K. (21. January 2014): Mechanically induced silyl ester cleavage under acidic conditions investigated by AFM-based single-molecule force spectroscopy in the force-ramp mode. In: Soft Matter, Vol. 10, No. 11: pp. 1644-1659




AFM-based dynamic single-molecule force spectroscopy was used to stretch carboxymethylated amylose (CMA) polymers, which have been covalently tethered between a silanized glass substrate and a silanized AFM tip via acid-catalyzed ester condensation at pH 2.0. Rupture forces were measured as a function of temperature and force loading rate in the force-ramp mode. The data exhibit significant statistical scattering, which is fitted with a maximum likelihood estimation (MLE) algorithm. Bond rupture is described with a Morse potential based Arrhenius kinetics model. The fit yields a bond dissociation energy De = 35 kJ mol−1 and an Arrhenius pre-factor A = 6.6 × 104 s−1. The bond dissociation energy is consistent with previous experiments under identical conditions, where the force-clamp mode was employed. However, the bi-exponential decay kinetics, which the force-clamp results unambiguously revealed, are not evident in the force-ramp data. While it is possible to fit the force-ramp data with a bi-exponential model, the fit parameters differ from the force-clamp experiments. Overall, single-molecule force spectroscopy in the force-ramp mode yields data whose information content is more limited than force-clamp data. It may, however, still be necessary and advantageous to perform force-ramp experiments. The number of successful events is often higher in the force-ramp mode, and competing reaction pathways may make force-clamp experiments impossible.