Spiked gold nanotriangles: formation, characterization and applications in surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy and plasmon-enhanced catalysis†
We show the formation of metallic spikes on the surface of gold nanotriangles (AuNTs) by using the same reduction process which has been used for the synthesis of gold nanostars. We confirm that silver nitrate operates as a shape-directing agent in combination with ascorbic acid as the reducing agent and investigate the mechanism by dissecting the contribution of each component, i.e., anionic surfactant dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate (AOT), ascorbic acid (AA), and AgNO3. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations show that AA attaches to the AOT bilayer of nanotriangles, and covers the surface of gold clusters, which is of special relevance for the spike formation process at the AuNT surface. The surface modification goes hand in hand with a change of the optical properties. The increased thickness of the triangles and a sizeable fraction of silver atoms covering the spikes lead to a blue-shift of the intense near infrared absorption of the AuNTs. The sponge-like spiky surface increases both the surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) cross section of the particles and the photo-catalytic activity in comparison with the unmodified triangles, which is exemplified by the plasmon-driven dimerization of 4-nitrothiophenol (4-NTP) to 4,4′-dimercaptoazobenzene (DMAB).