Conjugation of thiol-terminated molecules to ultrasmall 2 nm-gold nanoparticles leads to remarkably complex 1H-NMR spectra
Gold nanoparticles, functionalized by aliphatic and aromatic mercapto-functionalized carboxylic acids and by two small peptides (CG and CGGRGD), respectively, were synthesized by the reduction of HAuCl4 with NaBH4 in the presence of the above ligands. After purification by centrifugation or filtration and redispersion, the dispersed nanoparticles were analysed by differential centrifugal sedimentation (DCS), high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM), and a variety of NMR spectroscopic techniques: 1H-NMR, 1H,1H-COSY and 1H-DOSY. The hydrodynamic diameter of the particles was between 1.8 and 4.4 nm, as determined by DOSY, in good agreement with the DCS and HRTEM results. Diffusion ordered spectroscopy (DOSY) turned out to be a valuable and non-destructive tool to determine the hydrodynamic diameter of dispersed nanoparticles and to control the purity of the final particles. The coordination of the organic molecules to the gold nanoparticles resulted in distinct and complex changes in the 1H-NMR spectra. These were only partially explainable but clearly caused by the vicinity of the molecules to the gold nanoparticle.