An extensive study of the time dependence of DNA wrapping in single-walled nanotube (SWNT) dispersions has been carried out, revealing a number of unusual phenomena. SWNTs were dispersed in water with salmon testes DNA and monitored over a three-month period. Between 20 and 50 days after the sample was first prepared, the SWNT photoluminescence (PL) intensity was observed to increase by a factor of 50. This increase was accompanied by a considerable sharpening of the van Hove absorption peaks. High-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) images showed the progressive formation of a coating of DNA on the walls of the nanotubes over the three-month period. HRTEM and circular dichroism spectroscopy studies showed that the improvement in both the NIR PL intensity and the van Hove absorption peaks coincided with the completion of a monolayer coating of DNA on the SWNT walls. HRTEM images clearly showed the DNA wrapping helically around the SWNTs in a surprisingly ordered fashion. We suggest that the initial quenching of NIR photoluminescence and broadening of absorption peaks is related to the presence of protonated surface oxides on the nanotubes. The presence of an ordered DNA coating on the nanotube walls mediates both deprotonation and removal of the surface oxides. An extensive DNA coating is required to substantially restore the photoluminescence, and thus, the luminescence switch-on and subsequent saturation indicate the completion of the DNA-wrapping process. The temperature dependence of the PL switch-on, and thus of the wrapping process, was investigated by measuring as functions of temperature both the time before PL switch-on and the time required for the PL intensity to saturate. This allowed the calculation of the activation energies for both the process preceding PL switch-on and the process limiting the rise of PL intensity, which were found to be 31 and 41 kJ mol (-1), respectively. The associated entropies of activation were -263 and -225 J mol (-1) K (-1), respectively. These negative activation entropies suggest that the rate-limiting step is characterized by a change in the system from a less-ordered to a more-ordered state, consistent with the formation of an ordered DNA coating.
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