University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006
Polymer Protected Gold Nanoparticles
Doctoral dissertation, May 2006.
Polymer protected gold nanoparticles have successfully been synthesized by both "grafting-from" and "grafting-to" techniques. The synthesis methods of the gold particles were systematically studied. Two chemically different homopolymers were used to protect gold particles: thermo-responsive poly(N-isopropylacrylamide), PNIPAM, and polystyrene, PS. Both polymers were synthesized by using a controlled/living radical polymerization process, reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerization, to obtain monodisperse polymers of various molar masses and carrying dithiobenzoate end groups. Hence, particles protected either with PNIPAM, PNIPAM-AuNPs, or with a mixture of two polymers, PNIPAM/PS-AuNPs (i.e., amphiphilic gold nanoparticles), were prepared. The particles contain monodisperse polymer shells, though the cores are somewhat polydisperse.
Aqueous PNIPAM-AuNPs prepared using a "grafting-from" technique, show thermo-responsive properties derived from the tethered PNIPAM chains. For PNIPAM-AuNPs prepared using a "grafting-to" technique, two-phase transitions of PNIPAM were observed in the microcalorimetric studies of the aqueous solutions. The first transition with a sharp and narrow endothermic peak occurs at lower temperature, and the second one with a broader peak at higher temperature. In the first transition PNIPAM segments show much higher cooperativity than in the second one. The observations are tentatively rationalized by assuming that the PNIPAM brush can be subdivided into two zones, an inner and an outer one. In the inner zone, the PNIPAM segments are close to the gold surface, densely packed, less hydrated, and undergo the first transition. In the outer zone, on the other hand, the PNIPAM segments are looser and more hydrated, adopt a restricted random coil conformation, and show a phase transition, which is dependent on both particle concentration and the chemical nature of the end groups of the PNIPAM chains.
Monolayers of the amphiphilic gold nanoparticles at the air-water interface show several characteristic regions upon compression in a Langmuir trough at room temperature. These can be attributed to the polymer conformational transitions from a pancake to a brush. Also, the compression isotherms show temperature dependence due to the thermo-responsive properties of the tethered PNIPAM chains. The films were successfully deposited on substrates by Langmuir-Blodgett technique. The sessile drop contact angle measurements conducted on both sides of the monolayer deposited at room temperature reveal two slightly different contact angles, that may indicate phase separation between the tethered PNIPAM and PS chains on the gold core.
The optical properties of amphiphilic gold nanoparticles were studied both in situ at the air-water interface and on the deposited films. The in situ SPR band of the monolayer shows a blue shift with compression, while a red shift with the deposition cycle occurs in the deposited films. The blue shift is compression-induced and closely related to the conformational change of the tethered PNIPAM chains, which may cause a decrease in the polarity of the local environment of the gold cores. The red shift in the deposited films is due to a weak interparticle coupling between adjacent particles. Temperature effects on the SPR band in both cases were also investigated. In the in situ case, at a constant surface pressure, an increase in temperature leads to a red shift in the SPR, likely due to the shrinking of the tethered PNIPAM chains, as well as to a slight decrease of the distance between the adjacent particles resulting in an increase in the interparticle coupling. However, in the case of the deposited films, the SPR band red-shifts with the deposition cycles more at a high temperature than at a low temperature. This is because the compressibility of the polymer coated gold nanoparticles at a high temperature leads to a smaller interparticle distance, resulting in an increase of the interparticle coupling in the deposited multilayers.
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© University of Helsinki 2006
Last updated 04.04.2006