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Inorg Chem. 2010 Dec 6;49(23):10858-66. doi: 10.1021/ic101146e. Epub 2010 Nov 10.

Tiopronin gold nanoparticle precursor forms aurophilic ring tetramer.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee 37235-1822, United States.


In the two step synthesis of thiolate-monolayer protected clusters (MPCs), the first step of the reaction is a mild reduction of gold(III) by thiols that generates gold(I) thiolate complexes as intermediates. Using tiopronin (Tio) as the thiol reductant, the characterization of the intermediate Au(4)Tio(4) complex was accomplished with various analytical and structural techniques. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), elemental analysis, thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), and matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-mass spectrometry (MALDI-MS) were all consistent with a cyclic gold(I)-thiol tetramer structure, and final structural analysis was gathered through the use of powder diffraction and pair distribution functions (PDF). Crystallographic data has proved challenging for almost all previous gold(I)-thiolate complexes. Herein, a novel characterization technique when combined with standard analytical assessment to elucidate structure without crystallographic data proved invaluable to the study of these complexes. This in conjunction with other analytical techniques, in particular mass spectrometry, can elucidate a structure when crystallographic data is unavailable. In addition, luminescent properties provided evidence of aurophilicity within the molecule. The concept of aurophilicity has been introduced to describe a select group of gold-thiolate structures, which possess unique characteristics, mainly red photoluminescence and a distinct Au-Au intramolecular distance indicating a weak metal-metal bond as also evidenced by the structural model of the tetramer. Significant features of both the tetrameric and the aurophilic properties of the intermediate gold(I) tiopronin complex are retained after borohydride reduction to form the MPC, including gold(I) tiopronin partial rings as capping motifs, or "staples", and weak red photoluminescence that extends into the Near Infrared region.

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