Complexity of gold nanoparticle formation disclosed by dynamics study

Christian Engelbrekt, Palle Skovhus Jensen, Karsten Sørensen, Jens Ulstrup, Jingdong Zhang

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Although chemically synthesized gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) from gold salt (HAuCl4) are among the most studied nanomaterials, understanding the formation mechanisms is a challenge mainly due to limited dynamics information. A range of in situ methods with down to millisecond (ms) time resolution have been employed in the present report to monitor time-dependent physical and chemical properties in aqueous solution during the chemical synthesis. Chemical synthesis of AuNPs is a reduction process accompanied by release of ions and protons, and formation of solid particles. Dynamic information from redox potential, pH, conductivity, and turbidity of the solution enables distinct observation of reduction and nucleation/growth of AuNPs phases. The dynamics of the electrochemical potential shows that reduction of gold salt (HAuCl 4 and its hydrolyzed forms) occurs via intermediate [AuCl 2]- to form Au atoms during the early stage of the synthesis process. pH- and conductivity-dynamics point further clearly to formation of coating layers on AuNPs and adsorbate exchange between MES and starch. © 2013 American Chemical Society.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number22
Pages (from-to)11818-11828
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Chemical properties
  • Dynamics
  • Redox reactions
  • Reduction
  • Turbidity
  • Gold


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