Ultrasmall NHC-coated gold nanoparticles obtained through solvent free thermolysis of organometallic Au(i) complexes†
Ultrasmall gold nanoparticles (Au UNPs) represent a unique class of nanomaterials making them very attractive for certain applications. Herein, we developed an organometallic approach to the synthesis of Au UNPs stabilized with the C18H37-NHC ligand by the solvent free thermolysis of [RMIM][Au(C6F5)2] (1) or [Au(C6F5)(RNHC)] (3) (with R = C18H37-), by controlling the reactivity of pentafluorophenyl ligands as deprotonating or reductive elimination agents; Au UNPs can be achieved by solvent free thermolysis. Pentafluorophenyl Au(I) complexes 1 and 3 are synthesized from the corresponding ionic and neutral precursors. The presence of long alkyl chain imidazolium or carbene species in the complexes makes them to behave as isotropic liquids at moderate temperatures. The use of multinuclear NMR allows the description of the mechanism of formation of the UNPs as well as the surface state of the UNPs.