Quantitative analysis of complex amino acids and RGD peptides by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS)

Joanna S. Stevens, Alba C. De Luca, Michalis Pelendritis, Giorgio Terenghi, Sandra Downes, Sven L M Schroeder

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The C 1 s, N 1 s, and O 1 s core level binding energies (BEs) of the functional groups in amino acids (glycine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, arginine, and histidine) with varied side-chains and cell-binding RGD-based peptides have been determined and characterized by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy with a monochromatic Al Kα source. The zwitterionic nature of the amino acids in the solid state is unequivocally evident from the N 1 s signals of the protonated amine groups and the C 1 s signature of carboxylate groups. Significant adventitious carbon contamination is evident for all samples but can be quantitatively accounted for. No intrinsic differences in the XP spectra are evident between two polymorphs (α and γ) of glycine, indicating that the crystallographic differences have a minor influence on the core level BEs for this system. The two nitrogen centers in the imidazole group of histidine exhibit an N 1 s BE shift that is in line with previously reported data for theophylline and aqueous imidazole solutions, while the nitrogen and carbon chemical shifts reflect the unusual guanidinium chemical environment in arginine. It is shown that the complex envelopes of C 1 s and O 1 s photoemission spectra for short-chain peptides can be analyzed quantitatively by reference to the less complex XP spectra of the constituent amino acids, provided the peptides are of high enough purity. The distinctive N 1 s photoemission from the amide linkages provides an indicator of peptide formation even in the presence of common impurities, and variations in the relative intensities of N 1 s were found to be diagnostic for each of the three peptides investigated (RGD, RGDS, and RGDSC). Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1238-1246
    Number of pages8
    JournalSurface and Interface Analysis
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013


    • biomaterials
    • glycine
    • peptide
    • polymorph
    • RGD
    • XPS


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