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J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Aug 15;134(32):13316-22. doi: 10.1021/ja3032339. Epub 2012 Aug 2.

Structural and theoretical basis for ligand exchange on thiolate monolayer protected gold nanoclusters.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523, USA.


Ligand exchange reactions are widely used for imparting new functionality on or integrating nanoparticles into devices. Thiolate-for-thiolate ligand exchange in monolayer protected gold nanoclusters has been used for over a decade; however, a firm structural basis of this reaction has been lacking. Herein, we present the first single-crystal X-ray structure of a partially exchanged Au(102)(p-MBA)(40)(p-BBT)(4) (p-MBA = para-mercaptobenzoic acid, p-BBT = para-bromobenzene thiol) with p-BBT as the incoming ligand. The crystal structure shows that 2 of the 22 symmetry-unique p-MBA ligand sites are partially exchanged to p-BBT under the initial fast kinetics in a 5 min timescale exchange reaction. Each of these ligand-binding sites is bonded to a different solvent-exposed Au atom, suggesting an associative mechanism for the initial ligand exchange. Density functional theory calculations modeling both thiol and thiolate incoming ligands postulate a mechanistic pathway for thiol-based ligand exchange. The discrete modification of a small set of ligand binding sites suggests Au(102)(p-MBA)(44) as a powerful platform for surface chemical engineering.

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