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J Am Chem Soc. 2011 Jun 1;133(21):8179-90. doi: 10.1021/ja107934h. Epub 2011 May 6.

Spectroscopic and microscopic investigation of gold nanoparticle formation: ligand and temperature effects on rate and particle size.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Utah, 315 South 1400 East, RM 2020, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112, USA.


We report a spectroscopic and microscopic investigation of the synthesis of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) with average sizes of less than 5 nm. The slow reduction and AuNP formation processes that occur by using 9-borabicyclo[3.3.1]nonane (9-BBN) as a reducing agent enabled a time-dependent investigation based on standard UV-vis spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) analyses. This is in contrast to other borohydride-based syntheses of thiolate monolayer protected AuNPs which form particles very rapidly. We investigated the formation of 1-octadecanethiol (ODT) protected AuNPs with average diameters of 1.5-4.3 nm. By studying the progression of nanoparticle formation over time, we find that the nucleation rate and the growth time, which are interlinked with the amount of ODT and the temperature, influence the size and the size dispersion of the AuNPs. High-resolution TEM (HRTEM) analyses also suggest that the nanoparticles are highly single crystalline throughout the synthesis and appear to be formed by a diffusion-controlled Ostwald-ripening growth mechanism.

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