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Realizing enhanced luminescence of silver nanocluster–peptide soft hydrogels by PEI reinforcement

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Abstract

Metal nanoclusters (NCs) are a new type of fluorescent nanomaterial composed of several to several tens of metal ions or atoms with a wide range of applications in the fields of catalysis, optics, and biomedicine. However, fluorescence quenching when existing as individuals in aqueous solutions greatly limits their applications. In this study, six-core Ag(I) NCs (Ag6-NCs) were interacted with peptides (DD-5) in water to form soft hydrogels with the aggregation-induced emission (AIE) of Ag6-NCs. The introduction of polyethyleneimine (PEI) into the Ag6-NCs/DD-5 hydrogel succeeded in further enhancing the fluorescence intensity. This dual-AIE behavior of the Ag6-NCs/DD-5/PEI hydrogels is mainly ascribed to the strong hydrogen bonding among the carboxyl groups of Ag6, those of DD-5 and the amino groups of PEI, which effectively restricted intramolecular vibration of the capping ligands on the Ag6-NCs. Moreover, the addition of PEI can effectively promote the gelation speed of Ag6-NCs/DD-5 and act as a physical cross-linker, leading to an increase of the mechanical strength of the hydrogel. This work opens a new pathway for the fabrication of smart composite materials with multiple functions, which show a variety of applications such as chemical/biosensing and bioimaging.

Graphical abstract: Realizing enhanced luminescence of silver nanocluster–peptide soft hydrogels by PEI reinforcement

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Publication details

The article was received on 23 Aug 2018, accepted on 20 Sep 2018 and first published on 20 Sep 2018


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C8SM01734D
Citation: Soft Matter, 2018, Advance Article
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    Realizing enhanced luminescence of silver nanocluster–peptide soft hydrogels by PEI reinforcement

    X. Xin, Y. Gao, Q. Zhang, Z. Wang, D. Sun, S. Yuan and H. Xia, Soft Matter, 2018, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C8SM01734D

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