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Chemistry. 2008;14(5):1584-91.

Facile synthesis of gold nanoparticles with narrow size distribution by using AuCl or AuBr as the precursor.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis, Saint Louis, MO 63130, USA.


Gold(I) halides, including AuCl and AuBr, were employed for the first time as precursors in the synthesis of Au nanoparticles. The synthesis was accomplished by dissolving Au(I) halides in chloroform in the presence of alkylamines, followed by decomposition at 60 degrees C. The relative low stability of the Au(I) halides and there derivatives eliminated the need for a reducing agent, which is usually required for Au(III)-based precursors to generate Au nanoparticles. Controlled growth of Au nanoparticles with a narrow size distribution was achieved when AuCl and oleylamine were used for the synthesis. FTIR and mass spectra revealed that a complex, [AuCl(oleylamine)], was formed through coordination between oleylamine and AuCl. Thermolysis of the complex in chloroform led to the formation of dioleylamine and Au nanoparticles. When oleylamine was replaced with octadecylamine, much larger nanoparticles were obtained due to the lower stability of [AuCl(octadecylamine)] complex relative to [AuCl(oleylamine)]. Au nanoparticles can also be prepared from AuBr through thermolysis of the [AuBr(oleylamine)] complex. Due to the oxidative etching effect caused by Br(-), the nanoparticles obtained from AuBr exhibited an aspect ratio of 1.28, in contrast to 1.0 for the particles made from AuCl. Compared to the existing methods for preparing Au nanoparticles through the reduction of Au(III) compounds, this new approach based on Au(I) halides offers great flexibility in terms of size control.

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