Manipulating chemistry through nanoparticle morphology†
We demonstrate that the protonation chemistry of molecules adsorbed at nanometer distances from the surface of anisotropic gold nanoparticles can be manipulated through the effect of surface morphology on the local proton density of an organic coating. Direct evidence of this remarkable effect was obtained by monitoring surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) from mercaptobenzoic acid and 4-aminobenzenethiol molecules adsorbed on gold nanostars. By smoothing the initially sharp nanostar tips through a mild thermal treatment, changes were induced on protonation of the molecules, which can be observed through changes in the measured SERS spectra. These results shed light on the local chemical environment near anisotropic colloidal nanoparticles and open an alternative avenue to actively control chemistry through surface morphology.