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Facile displacement of citrate residues from gold nanoparticle surfaces

Perera, Ganganath S., Athukorale, Sumudu A., Perez, Felio, Pittman, Charles U., Zhang, Dongmao
Journal of colloid and interface science 2018 v.511 pp. 335-343
X-radiation, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, adenine, chemistry, citrates, gold, halides, ligands, nanogold, nanoparticles, silicone
The stability of citrate-residues on gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) against ligand displacement has been controversial. Using AuNPs synthesized with deuterated citrate in combination with in-situ surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopic (SERS) analysis, we report that both citrate-residues and solution impurities can be simultaneously adsorbed onto citrate-reduced AuNPs in solution. The citrate-residues can be readily displaced from AuNPs by organosulfur such as organothiols (RS-H), organodisuflide (R-S-S-R), and non-specific ligands including halides and adenine. Control experiments conducted on high-purity gold films sputter-coated onto silicone substrates indicate that air-borne and solvent-borne impurities rapidly contaminate the gold surfaces. Head-to-head comparison of ligand-functionalized AuNPs by in-situ SERS measurements verses those from the ex-situ X-ray photoelectron spectroscopic (XPS) measurements reveal that the impurity deposition can compromise the reliability of ex-situ XPS identification of surface adsorbates on AuNPs in solution. These insights are of general significance to nanoscience research given the broad interest in nanoparticle surface chemistry and popularity of XPS for nanomaterial characterizations.