Engineering structural diversity in gold nanocrystals by ligand-mediated interface control
Faculty of Sciences. Physics
Chemistry of materials
, p. 8032-8040
University of Antwerp
Surface and interface control is fundamentally important for crystal growth engineering, catalysis, surface-enhanced spectroscopies, and self-assembly, among other processes and applications. Understanding the role of ligands in regulating surface properties of plasmonic metal nanocrystals during growth has received considerable attention. However, the underlying mechanisms and the diverse functionalities of ligands are yet to be fully addressed. In this contribution, we report a systematic study of ligand-mediated interface control in seeded growth of gold nanocrystals, leading to diverse and exotic nanostructures with an improved surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) activity. Three dimensional transmission electron microscopy revealed an intriguing gold shell growth process mediated by the bifunctional ligand 1,4-benzenedithiol (BDT), which leads to a unique crystal growth mechanism as compared to other ligands, and subsequently to the concept of interfacial energy control mechanism. VolmerWeber growth mode was proposed to be responsible for BDT-mediated seeded growth, favoring the strongest interfacial energy and generating an asymmetric island growth pathway with internal crevices/gaps. This additionally favors incorporation of BDT at the plasmonic nanogaps, thereby generating strong SERS activity with a maximum efficiency for a core-semishell configuration obtained along seeded growth. Numerical modeling was used to explain this observation. Interestingly, the same strategy can be used to engineer the structural diversity of this system, by using gold nanoparticle seeds with various sizes and shapes, and varying the [Au3+]/[Au0] ratio. This rendered a series of diverse and exotic plasmonic nanohybrids such as semishell-coated gold nanorods, with embedded Raman-active tags and Janus surface with distinct surface functionalities. These would greatly enrich the plasmonic nanostructure toolbox for various studies and applications such as anisotropic nanocrystal engineering, SERS, and high-resolution Raman bioimaging or nanoantenna devices.