Stability of sputter-deposited gold nanoparticles in imidazolium ionic liquids
The stability of gold nanoparticles synthesised by sputter deposition has been studied in situ in 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium ionic liquids with bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide, tetrafluoroborate, hexafluorophosphate and dicyanamide anions with UV-VIS absorption spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy. Besides the growth of the gold nanoparticles, two other processes were observed after sputtering, namely aggregation and sedimentation of these nanoparticles. To model the absorption spectra of the sputtered gold nanoparticles, generalized multiparticle Mie calculations were performed. These theoretical calculations confirm the increase in absorbance at longer wavelength for larger aggregates and are in agreement with the experimental observations. It was found that the kinetics of aggregation and sedimentation scale with the viscosity of the ionic liquid. Small amounts of water were found to have a large detrimental influence on the stability of the colloidal suspensions of the gold nanoparticles in ionic liquids. From the large discrepancy between the theoretical and the experimentally observed stability of the NPs, it was concluded that structural forces stabilize the gold nanoparticles. This was also borne out by AFM measurements.