Probing the Structure, Composition, and Spatial Distribution of Ligands on Gold Nanorods

Michael J A Hore*, Xingchen Ye, Jamie Ford, Yuzhi Gao, Jiayang Fei, Qiong Wu, Stuart J. Rowan, Russell J. Composto, Christopher B. Murray, Boualem Hammouda

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


The structure and size of ligands attached to the surfaces of gold nanorods, such as adsorbed surfactants or grafted polymers, are important considerations that facilitate the use of such nanoparticles in the human body, in advanced materials for energy harvesting, or in devices for single molecule detection. Here, we report small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) measurements from surfactant or poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) coated gold nanorods in solution, which quantitatively determine the location, structure, and composition of these surface layers. In addition, by synthesizing gold nanorods using seed crystals which are coated with deuterated cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (dCTAB), we are able to exploit the isotopic sensitivity of SANS to study, for the first time, the retention of surfactant from the seed crystals to the final gold nanorod product, finding that very little exchange of the deuterated with hydrogenated surfactant occurs. Finally, we demonstrate that, when Au NRs are PEGylated using standard techniques, the surfactant bilayer remains intact, and while mass spectrometry detects the presence of both surfactant and PEG, the composition as measured from SANS is predominantly that of the surfactant. These measurements not only provide new insight into the synthesis and functionalization of gold nanorods but provide a quantitative picture of the structure of grafted polymer and surfactant layers on gold nanorod surfaces which has implications for the fabrication of plasmonic and biomedical materials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5730-5738
Number of pages9
JournalNano Letters
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Sept 9
Externally publishedYes


  • CTAB
  • CTAC
  • gold nanorods
  • polymer brush
  • Small-angle neutron scattering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanical Engineering


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