Effective replacement of cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) by mercaptoalkanoic acids in the gold nanorods (AuNRs) surfaces in aqueous solutions.
The highly packed cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) bilayer built up on the surface of gold nanorods (AuNRs) when synthetized by the seed-mediated procedure hampers the complete ligand exchange under experimental conditions that preserve the stability of the dispersions. In the present work, a ligand exchange protocol by using carboxy-terminated alkanethiols of different chain length by means of a green approach that use only aqueous solutions is presented. The protocol is based on the knowledge of the stability in aqueous solution of both, the starting CTAB-AuNRs and the final products that help in the choice of the experimental conditions used for ligand exchange. The characterization of the CTAB protective layer as well as the study of its colloidal stability in solution have helped us to design the appropriate methodology. Cyclic voltammetry of CTAB-AuNRs demonstrates the high stability of the bilayer showing the existence of a two-dimensional phase transition from a highly ordered to a less organized phase. Other techniques such as XPS, FT-IR and Raman spectroscopies inform about the structure of the layer and UV-visible-NIR spectroscopy stablishes the stability conditions in aqueous solution. We have chosen an exchange procedure for 11-mercaptoundecanoic acid (MUA) and 16-mercaptohexadecanoic acid (MHDA) based in a one-pot methodology under conditions where all the species involved are stable. The protocol, however, can be extended to different chemical functionalities that are considered useful to be applied in living systems. Under these conditions the complete exchange of CTAB by the mercaptoderivatives was successful as demonstrated by the different characterization techniques used: UV-visible-NIR, FT-IR, Raman, XPS spectroscopy, cyclic voltammetry and transmission electron microscopy (TEM).