Gold cluster formation with phosphine ligands: etching as a size-selective synthetic pathway for small clusters?

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TitleGold cluster formation with phosphine ligands: etching as a size-selective synthetic pathway for small clusters?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsPettibone, JM, Hudgens, JW
JournalACS Nano
Date Published2011 Apr 26
KeywordsColorimetry, Gold, Ligands, Phosphines, Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization, Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet

Triphenylphosphine (PPh(3)) is commonly used during syntheses of stable, closed-shell monolayer protected clusters (MPCs). Models of transition metal (TM) cluster and nanoparticle syntheses commonly assign PPh(3) a passive role as a chemical placeholder, electron balancing species, or surfactant. This study provides the first direct evidence that PPh(3) is a proactive etching agent that promotes the formation of specific closed-shell cluster sizes. To observe this effect, we developed a colorimetric tool that simultaneously monitors size distribution and population of PPh(3)-protected clusters as a function of time. The distribution of the clusters is assigned to different bin sizes by chemical conversion with L(3) (L(3) = 1,3-bis(diphenylphosphino)propane): (i) total conversion of PPh(3)-protected Au(8) and Au(9) clusters into [Au(6)L(3)(4)](2+) and (ii) ligand exchange with [Au(x)(PPh(3))(y)](z+) (10 ≤ x ≤ 13) clusters to form L(3)-protected Au(10) and Au(11) clusters. Evolution of the nascent cluster distribution in ethanol and methanol solvent systems was monitored by the colorimetric assay, which revealed a cyclic process of growth and etching reactions around the most stable cluster species to form nearly monodisperse product distributions. We formally define the population growth of specific clusters through cyclic processing of the Au MPCs as "size selective" processing. The current study highlights the need for incorporating bidirectional processing, including relative rate information, into TM kinetic models for ligands with growth and etching efficacy.

Alternate JournalACS Nano
PubMed ID21381761