Characterization of Conventional One-Step Sodium Thiosulfate Facilitated Gold Nanoparticle Synthesis
Reese, Laura M.
Vikesland, Peter J.
Bickford, Lisette Ramirez
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Gold-gold sulfide nanoparticles are of interest for drug delivery, biomedical imaging, and photothermal therapy applications due to a facile synthesis method resulting in small particles with high near-infrared (NIR) absorption efficiency. Previous studies suggest that the NIR sensitivity of these nanoparticles was due to hexagonally shaped metal-coated dielectric nanoparticles that consist of a gold sulfide core and gold shell. Here, we illustrate that the conventional synthesis procedure results in the formation of polydisperse samples of icosahedral gold particles, gold nanoplates, and small gold spheres. Importantly, through compositional analysis, via UV/vis absorption spectrophotometry, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS), we show that all of the nanoparticles exhibit identical face center cubic (FCC) gold crystalline structures, thus suggesting that sulfide is not present in the final fabricated nanoparticles. We show that icosahedrally shaped nanoparticles result in a blue-shifted absorbance, with a peak in the visible range. Alternatively, the nanoplate nanoparticles result in the characteristic NIR absorbance peak. Thus, we report that the NIR-contributing species in conventional gold-gold sulfide formulations are nanoplates that are comprised entirely of gold. Furthermore, polydisperse gold nanoparticle samples produced by the traditional one-step reduction of HAuCl4 by sodium thiosulfate show increased in vitro toxicity, compared to isolated and more homogeneous constituent samples. This result exemplifies the importance of developing monodisperse nanoparticle formulations that are well characterized in order to expedite the development of clinically beneficial nanomaterials.