Good's buffers have various affinities to gold nanoparticles regulating fluorescent and colorimetric DNA sensing†
Citrate-capped gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) are highly important for sensing, drug delivery, and materials design. Many of their reactions take place in various buffers such as phosphate and Good's buffers. The effect of buffer on the surface properties of AuNPs is critical, yet this topic has not been systematically explored. Herein, we used halides such as fluoride, chloride, and bromide as probes to measure the relative adsorption strength of six common buffers. Among them, HEPES had the highest adsorption affinity, while MES, citrate and phosphate were weakly adsorbed with an overall ranking of HEPES > PIPES > MOPS > MES > citrate, phosphate. The adsorption strength was reflected from the inhibited adsorption of DNA and from the displacement of pre-adsorbed DNA. This conclusion is also supported by surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy. Furthermore, some buffer molecules did not get adsorbed instantaneously, and the MOPS buffer took up to 1 h to reach equilibrium. Finally, a classic label-free AuNP-based colorimetric sensor was tested. Its sensitivity increased by 15.7-fold when performed in a MES buffer compared to a HEPES buffer. This study has articulated the importance of buffer for AuNP-based studies and how it can improve sensors and yield more reproducible experimental systems.