A scalable synthesis of highly stable and water dispersible Ag-44(SR)(30) nanoclusters
We report the synthesis of atomically monodisperse thiol-protected silver nanoclusters [Ag-44(SR)(30)](m), (SR = 5-mercapto-2-nitrobenzoic acid) in which the product nanocluster is highly stable in contrast to previous preparation methods. The method is one-pot, scalable, and produces nanoclusters that are stable in aqueous solution for at least 9 months at room temperature under ambient conditions, with very little degradation to their unique UV-Vis optical absorption spectrum. The composition, size, and monodispersity were determined by electrospray ionization mass spectrometry and analytical ultracentrifugation. The produced nanoclusters are likely to be in a superatom charge-state of m = 4-, due to the fact that their optical absorption spectrum shares most of the unique features of the intense and broadly absorbing nanoparticles identified as [Ag-44(SR)(30)](4-) by Harkness et al. (Nanoscale, 2012, 4, 4269). A protocol to transfer the nanoclusters to organic solvents is also described. Using the disperse nanoclusters in organic media, we fabricated solid-state films of [Ag-44(SR)(30)](m) that retained all the distinct features of the optical absorption spectrum of the nanoclusters in solution. The films were studied by X-ray diffraction and photoelectron spectroscopy in order to investigate their crystallinity, atomic composition and valence band structure. The stability, scalability, and the film fabrication method demonstrated in this work pave the way towards the crystallization of [Ag-44(SR)(30)](m) and its full structural determination by single crystal X-ray diffraction. Moreover, due to their unique and attractive optical properties with multiple optical transitions, we anticipate these clusters to find practical applications in light-harvesting, such as photovoltaics and photocatalysis, which have been hindered so far by the instability of previous generations of the cluster.