Compression of dry lysozyme targets: The target preparation pressure as a new parameter in protein thin film production by pulsed laser deposition

Catalin Constantinescu, Andreea Matei, Marshall Tabetah, Maria Dinescu, Leonid V. Zhigilei, Jørgen Schou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Film growth of the well-known protein, chicken lysozyme, produced by the dry technique, pulsed laser deposition (PLD), from a compressed powder target has been investigated as a function of the target preparation pressure. PLD is a versatile technique for fabricating high quality films of inorganic materials, but the laser beam will typically produce fragments of molecules in the target and subsequently in the deposited films. We demonstrate that the pressure applied to compact the target prior to the laser irradiation is an important parameter that determines the deposition rate as well as the extent of fragmentation of the deposited molecules. The deposition process was carried out in vacuum using dry targets prepared with compaction pressure in the range 10–160 bar. The residual water in pockets of the lysozyme molecules drives fragments or intact lysozyme out of the target. At the intermediate fluence of 2 J/cm 2 , the deposition rate of the material (fragments or intact molecules) rises from 3 to 9 ng/cm 2 per shot as the compaction pressure increases from 10 to 160 bar. However, the number of intact molecules falls down by almost two orders of magnitude in the same pressure range. This is explained by a stronger cohesion of the target material prepared at higher compression pressure, such that more energy and thus a higher temperature are required for the onset of material ejection. At the highest compression pressure, it means that no intact molecules survive the ejection. The results indicate that there is a pressure range where both a reasonable deposition rate and a considerable fraction of intact molecules in the films can be achieved. These experimental observations are consistent with the results of coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations, where the fraction of intact lysozyme molecules is observed to vanish as the maximum temperature in the irradiated target increases.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Surface Science
Pages (from-to)120-124
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


  • Lysozyme
  • Organics
  • PLD
  • Thin films

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