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Importance of nanoparticle size in colorimetric and SERS-based multimodal trace detection of Ni(II) ions with functional gold nanoparticles

Krpetic, Zeljka and Guerrini, Luca and Larmour, Iain A. and Reglinski, John and Faulds, Karen and Graham, Duncan (2012) Importance of nanoparticle size in colorimetric and SERS-based multimodal trace detection of Ni(II) ions with functional gold nanoparticles. Small, 8 (5). 707–714. ISSN 1613-6810

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Colorimetric detection of analytes using gold nanoparticles along with surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) are areas of intense research activity since they both offer sensing of very low concentrations of target species. Multimodal detection promotes the simultaneous detection of a sample by a combination of different techniques; consequently, surface chemistry design in the development of multimodal nanosensors is important for rapid and sensitive evaluation of the analytes by diverse analytical methods. Herein it is shown that nanoparticle size plays an important role in the design of functional nanoparticles for colorimetric and SERS-based sensing applications, allowing controlled nanoparticle assembly and tunable sensor response. The design and preparation of robust nanoparticle systems and their assembly is reported for trace detection of Ni(II) ions as a model system in an aqueous solution. The combination of covalently attached nitrilotriacetic acid moieties along with the L-carnosine dipeptide on the nanoparticle surface represents a highly sensitive platform for rapid and selective detection of Ni(II) ions. This systematic study demonstrates that significantly lower detection limits can be achieved by finely tuning the assembly of gold nanoparticles of different core sizes. The results clearly demonstrate the feasibility and usefulness of a multimodal approach.