Ligand density quantification on colloidal inorganic nanoparticles†
Colloidal inorganic nanoparticles are being used in an increasingly large number of applications ranging from biological imaging to television displays. In all cases, nanoparticle surface chemistry can significantly impact particle physical properties, processing, and performance. The first step in leveraging this tunability is to develop analytical approaches to describe surface chemical features. Some of the most basic descriptors of particle surface chemistry include the quantity, identity, and arrangement of ligands appended to the particle core. Here, we review approaches to quantify molecular ligand densities on nanoparticle surfaces and consider fundamental barriers to the accuracy of this analysis including parameters such as dispersity in colloidal nanoparticle samples, particle–ligand interactions, and currently available analytical techniques. Techniques reviewed include widely studied methods such as optical, atomic, vibrational, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopies as well as emerging or niche approaches including electrospray-differential mobility analysis, pH-based methods, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Collectively, these studies elucidate surface chemistry architectures that accelerate both fundamental understanding of nanoscale physical phenomena and the implementation of these materials in a wide range of technologies.
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