, Volume 276, Issue 10, pp 853-859

Gold nanoparticle synthesis in graft copolymer micelles

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 An amphiphilic poly(acrylic acid)/polystyrene graft copolymer (PAA-g-PS) has been used to form “nanoreactors” for the synthesis of gold clusters. Such copolymers tend to form stable micelles in non-polar organic solvents where the poly(acrylic acid) chains constitute the core, and the polystyrene chains, the shell. In the present study, the micellar structure of PAA-g-PS in toluene has been demonstrated by dynamic light scattering and transmission electron microscopy (TEM).

The subsequent preparation of gold-graft copolymer composites involved the introduction of gold chloride (AuCl3), either in powder form or previously dissolved in ether, into the micellar cores of the PAA-g-PS in toluene. The gold salt was then reduced by ultraviolet (UV) irradiation of the emulsion, or of dried cast films. TEM and ultraviolet-visible (UV/Vis) spectroscopy were used to characterize the resulting composites. Gold particles of less than 5 nm in diameter were observed in all cases, but the size distribution and the spatial arrangement of the clusters in the cast films were modified when diethyl ether was used to introduce AuCl3 into the PAA-g-PS micellar cores. This was thought to be due to enhanced nucleation of the gold particles and partial disruption of the micellar cores in the presence of diethyl ether.