Surface plasmon resonance study of the purple gold (AuAl₂) intermetallic, pH-responsive fluorescence gold nanoparticles, and gold nanosphere assembly

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Virginia Tech

In this dissertation, I have verified that the striking purple color of the intermetallic compound AuAl₂, also known as purple gold, originates from surface plasmons (SPs). This contrasts to a previous assumption that this color is due to an interband absorption transition. The existence of SPs was demonstrated by launching them in thin AuAl2 films in the Kretschmann configuration, which enables us to measure the SP dispersion relation. I observed that the SP energy in thin films of purple gold is around 2.1 eV, comparable to previous work on the dielectric function of this material. Furthermore, SP sensing using AuAl₂ also shows the ability to measure the change in the refractive index of standard sucrose solution. AuAl₂ in nanoparticle form is also discussed in terms of plasmonic applications, where Mie scattering theory predicts that the particle bears nearly uniform absorption over the entire visible spectrum with an order magnitude higher than a lightabsorbing carbonaceous particle. The second topic of this dissertation focuses on plasmon enhanced fluorescence in gold nanoparticles (Au NPs). Here, I investigated the distance-dependent fluorescence emission of rhodamine green 110 fluorophores from Au NPs with tunable spacers. These spacers consist of polyelectrolyte multilayers (PEMs) consisting of poly(allylamine hydrochloride) and poly(styrene sulfonate) assembled at pH 8.4. The distance between Au NPs and fluorophores was varied by changing the ambient pH from 3 to 10 and back, which causes the swelling and deswelling of PEM spacer. Maximum fluorescence intensity with 4.0-fold enhancement was observed with 7-layer coated Au NPs at ambient pH 10 referenced to pH 3. The last topic of this dissertation examines a novel approach to assemble nanoparticles, in particular, dimers of gold nanospheres (NSs). 16 nm and 60 nm diameter NSs were connected using photocleavable molecules as linkers. I showed that the orientation of the dimers can be controlled with the polarization of UV illumination that cleaves the linkers, making dipolar patches. This type of assembly provides a simple method with potential applications in multiple contexts, such as biomedicine and nanorobotics.

Surface plasmons (SPs), Localized surface plasmon resonances (LSPRs), Kretschmann configuration, Surface plasmon-enhanced fluorescence (PEF) spectroscopy, Self-Assembly, Nanoparticles