Biphasic synthesis of Au@SiO2core-shell particles with stepwise ligand exchange

We report the synthesis of well-dispersed core-shell Au@SiO2nanoparticles with minimal extraneous silica particle growth. Agglomeration was suppressed through consecutive exchange of the stabilizing ligands on the gold cores from citrate to l-arginine and finally (3-mercaptopropyl)triethoxysilane. The result was a vitreophilic, stable gold suspension that could be coated with silica in a biphasic mixture through controlled hydrolysis of tetraethoxysilane underL-arginine catalysis. Unwanted condensation of silica particles without gold cores was limited by slowing the transfer across the liquid-liquid interface and reducing the concentration of the l-arginine catalyst. In-situ dynamic light scattering and optical transmission spectroscopy revealed the growth and dispersion states during synthesis. The resulting core-shell particles were characterized via dynamic light scattering, optical spectroscopy, and electron microscopy. Their cores were typically 19 nm in diameter, with a narrow size distribution, and could be coated with a silica shell in multiple steps to yield core-shell particles with diameters up to 40 nm. The approach was sufficiently controllable to allow us to target a shell thickness by choosing appropriate precursor concentrations.