Synthesis and Properties of Water-Soluble Gold Colloids Covalently Derivatized with Neutral Polymer Monolayers

Citrate-capped gold nanoparticles as well as planar gold surfaces can be efficiently grafted with a covalently attached polymer monolayer a few nanometers thick, by simple contact of the metal surface with dilute aqueous solutions of hydrophilic polymers that are end-capped with disulfide moieties, as shown by UV/vis absorption, dynamic light scattering, and surface plasmon resonance studies. The hydrophilic polymer-coated gold colloids can be freeze-dried and stored as powders that can be subsequently dissolved to yield stable aqueous dispersions, even at very large concentrations. They allow for applying filtrations, gel permeation chromatography, or centrifugation. They do not suffer from undesirable nonspecific adsorption of proteins while allowing the diffusion of small species within the hydrogel surface coating. In addition, specific properties of the original hydrophilic polymers are retained such as a lower critical solution temperature. The latter feature could be useful to enhance optical responses of functionalized gold surfaces toward interaction with various substrates.