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Highly luminescent near-infrared-emitting gold nanoclusters with further natural etching: photoluminescence and Hg2+ detection

Shuhong Lian12, Dehong Hu2, Changchun Zeng1, Pengfei Zhang2, Songhao Liu1 and Lintao Cai2*

Author Affiliations

1 Lab of Photonic Chinese Medicine, College of Biophotonics, South China Normal University, Guangzhou, Guangdong, 510631, China

2 Shenzhen Key Laboratory of Cancer Nanotechnology, CAS Key Lab of Health Informatics, Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology, Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenzhen, 518055, China

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2012, 7:348  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-7-348

Published: 27 June 2012


Highly luminescent near-infrared (NIR)-emitting gold nanoclusters (Au NCs) protected by glutathione with ultra-small size were prepared at high temperature following with a further natural etching at room temperature. The optical and surface properties of Au NCs were monitored by ultraviolet–visible and photoluminescence (PL) spectra, high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. The diameter of the etched Au NCs was reduced to approximately 1.35 nm with 30 % PL quantum yield. Interestingly, the PL of Au NCs was decreased obviously by the addition of Hg2+ and increased by the addition of Pb2+ at certain concentration. Our preliminary results illustrated that the highly luminescent NIR-emitting Au NCs would be an alternative probe for the detection of heavy metal ions in water and environmental monitoring.

Near-infrared-emitting gold nanoclusters; Natural etching; Highly luminescent; Hg2+; detection