Toward Smaller Aqueous-Phase Plasmonic Gold Nanoparticles: High-Stability Thiolate-Protected ~ 4.5 Nm Cores

Most applications of aqueous plasmonic gold nanoparticles benefit from control of the core size and shape, control of the nature of the ligand shell, and a simple and widely applicable preparation method. Surface functionalization of such nanoparticles is readily achievable but is restricted to water-soluble ligands. Here we have obtained highly monodisperse and stable smaller aqueous gold nanoparticles (core diameter ~ 4.5-nm), prepared from citrate-tannate precursors via ligand exchange with each of three distinct thiolates: 11-mercaptoundecanoic acid, a-R-lipoic acid, and para-mercaptobenzoic acid. These are characterized by UV-Vis spectroscopy for plasmonic properties; FTIR spectroscopy for ligand exchange confirmation; X-ray diffractometry for structural analysis; and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy for structure and size determination. Chemical reduction induces a blueshift, maximally +0.02-eV, in the localized surface-plasmon resonances band; this is interpreted as an electronic (-) charging of the MPC gold core, corresponding to a -0.5-V change in electrochemical potential.