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Issue 23, 2017
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Synthesis of highly fluorescent gold nanoclusters and their use in sensitive analysis of metal ions

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Abstract

As a promising fluorescent material, gold nanoclusters (Au NCs) have been used for biosensing and imaging. In metal ion sensing, the fluorescence of Au NCs is usually quenched in the presence of ions, but the reaction mechanism has not been clarified. In this work, mercaptan acids (3-mercaptopropanoic acid (3-MPA), 6-mercaptohexanoic acid (6-MHA), 11-mercaptoundecanoic acid (11-MUA) and 16-mercaptohexadecanoic acid (16-MHA)) were used as reductants and ligands to synthesize fluorescent Au NCs. The Au NCs had a core containing 18 atoms capped by 18 (3-MPA) or 10 (6-MHA, 11-MUA, 16-MHA) ligand molecules. The Au NCs prepared in this work had higher fluorescence quantum yields than those reported previously and the fluorescence showed a red-shift when varying the chain length of the mercaptan acids. It was found that in presence of ions (Mo(VI), Hg(II)), the fluorescence of the Au NCs is dependent upon the ligands. The Au NCs with 3-MPA and 6-MHA ligands were sensitive to Mo(VI) and Hg(II), while the Au NCs capped with 11-MUA and 16-MHA ligands were not sensitive to the ions. Various characterization techniques, including transmission electron microscopy, matrix-assisted laser-desorption ionization time of flight mass spectrometry, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, UV-Vis absorption spectroscopy and thermogravimetric analysis, were used to investigate the components and electronic structure of the clusters, as well as the emission and excitation properties before and after the reaction with metal ions. The structure of the Au NCs after the reaction with Mo(VI) and Hg(II) was also studied. It was found that Mo(VI) and Hg(II) both reacted with the gold atoms at the core site, but the reaction mechanisms were different.

Graphical abstract: Synthesis of highly fluorescent gold nanoclusters and their use in sensitive analysis of metal ions

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Publication details

The article was received on 13 Aug 2017, accepted on 15 Oct 2017 and first published on 17 Oct 2017


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7AN01348E
Citation: Analyst, 2017,142, 4486-4493
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    Synthesis of highly fluorescent gold nanoclusters and their use in sensitive analysis of metal ions

    Y. Yang, A. Han, R. Li, G. Fang, J. Liu and S. Wang, Analyst, 2017, 142, 4486
    DOI: 10.1039/C7AN01348E

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