Direct Synthesis of Thiolate-Protected Gold Nanoparticles Using Bunte Salts as Ligand Precursors: Investigations of Ligand Shell Formation and Core Growth
Lohse, Samuel E., 1981-
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Lohse, Samuel E., 1981-
Applications of ligand-protected nanoparticles have increased markedly in recent years, yet their controlled synthesis remains an under-developed field. Nanoparticle syntheses are highly specialized in their execution and often possess significant limitations. For example, the synthesis of thiol-stabilized gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) with core diameters greater than 5.0 nm is difficult to achieve using existing methods. This dissertation describes the development of a synthetic strategy for thiolate-stabilized AuNPs over a wide range of core sizes using alkyl thiosulfates (Bunte salts) as ligand precursors. The use of Bunte salts permits the synthesis of larger AuNPs than can be achieved using thiols by allowing the AuNP cores to grow to larger diameters before the formation of the thiolate ligand shell. Chapter II details the development of a direct synthesis strategy using Bunte salts as ligand precursors that produces AuNPs with diameters up to 20 nm. Chapter III describes an investigation of the ligand shell formation that occurs during these syntheses. The ligand shell formation involves the adsorption of the Bunte salt to the AuNP surface, where it is converted to the thiolate. This conversion requires an excess of sodium borohydride in the synthesis of >5 nm AuNPs, but not for the synthesis of smaller AuNPs. This synthetic strategy was adapted for use in flow reactors to attain simultaneous AuNP synthesis and characterization. Chapter IV demonstrates that thiol-stabilized AuNPs can be synthesized in a microfluidic device with product monitoring provided by UV-vis absorbance spectroscopy. The development of a capillary flow reactor that permits the incorporation of new monitoring techniques is presented in Chapter V. The incorporation of Small-Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS) analysis provides quantitative <italic>in situ</italic> determinations of AuNP diameter. The combination of synthetic control and monitoring makes capillary flow reactors powerful tools for optimization of NP syntheses and monitoring NP growth. In Chapter VI, the capillary flow reactor is used in an investigation of AuNP core growth. We also review AuNP growth mechanisms and show how to differentiate these using SAXS and UV-vis analysis. In these studies, AuNP growth is unexpectedly shown to involve a coalescence mechanism. This dissertation includes previously published and co-authored material.