Multiscale simulations of ligand adsorption and exchange on gold nanoparticles†
We have developed a multiscale model that combines first-principles methods with atomistic and mesoscopic simulations to explore the molecular structures and packing density of the ligands present on the gold nanoparticle (AuNP) surface, as well as the adsorption/exchange reaction kinetics of cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB)/PEG-SH ligands on different facets of gold, namely, Au(111), Au(100), and Au(110). Our model predicts that on clean gold surfaces, CTAB adsorption is diffusion limited. Specifically, CTAB has the preferentially higher adsorption rate and coverage density on Au(100) and Au(110) surfaces, forming a more compact layer with respect to that on the Au(111) surface, which could result in greater growth of gold nanoparticles along the (111) direction. As opposed to CTAB adsorption, the exchange reaction between PEG-SH with CTAB shows no selectivity to different crystal faces, and the reaction process follows Langmuir diffusion kinetics. Kinetic analysis reveals that, in water, the exchange reaction is zeroth order with respect to the concentration of an incoming PEG-SH, indicative of a dissociative exchange mechanism. The observed rate constant decreases exponentially with the PEG-SH chain length, consistent with a diffusion process for the free PEG-SH in water. In particular, we show that the exchange efficiency increases as the chain rigidness and size of the incoming ligand and/or steric bulk of the initial protecting ligand shell are decreased. Our objectives are to provide a model to assess the kinetics and thermodynamics of the adsorption/exchange reaction process, and we expect that these findings will have important implications for routine surface characterization of AuNPs.
- This article is part of the themed collection: 2018 PCCP HOT Articles