Infoscience

Review

Characterization of Ligand Shell for Mixed-Ligand Coated Gold Nanoparticles

Gold nanoparticles owe a large number of their properties to their ligand shell. Indeed, many researchers routinely use mixtures of ligand molecules for their nanoparticles to impart complex property sets. It has been shown that the morphology of ligand shells (e.g., Janus, random, stripelike) leads to specific properties. Examples include wettability, solubility, protein nonspecific adsorption, cell penetration, catalysis, and cation-capturing abilities. Yet, it remains a great challenge to evaluate such morphologies in even the most fundamental terms such as dimension and shape. In this Account, we review recent progress in characterization techniques applicable to gold nanoparticles with ligand shells composed of mixed ligands. We divide the characterization into three major categories, namely, microscopy, spectroscopy, and simulation. In microscopy, we review progresses in scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), and scanning/transmission electron microscopy. In spectroscopy, we mainly highlight recent achievements in nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), mass spectrometry (MS), small angle neutron scattering (SANS), electron spin resonance (EPR), and adsorption based spectroscopies. In simulation, we point out the latest results in understanding thermodynamic stability of ligand shell morphology and emphasize the role of computer simulation for helping interpretation of experimental data. We conclude with a perspective of future development.

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