Reversible, Reagentless Solubility Changes in Phosphatidylcholine-stabilized Gold Nanoparticles

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Phosphatidylcholine (PC) is a versatile ligand for synthesizing gold nanoparticles that are soluble in either organic or aqueous media. Here we report a novel route to organic-soluble, PC-stabilized gold nanoparticles that can be re-suspended in water after removal of the organic solvent. Similarly, we show that PC-stabilized gold nanoparticles synthesized in water can be re-suspended in organic solvents after complete removal of water. Without complete removal of the solvent, the nanoparticles retain their original solubility and do not phase transfer. This change in solvent preference from organic to aqueous and vice versa without the use of an additional phase transfer reagent is novel, visually striking, and of utility for synthetic modification of nanoparticles. This approach allows chemical reactions to be performed on nanoparticles in organic solvents followed by conversion of the products to water-soluble materials. A narrow distribution of PC-stabilized gold nanoparticles was obtained after phase transfer to water as characterized by UV-visible (UV-vis) spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy (TEM), demonstrating that the narrow distribution obtained from the organic synthesis is retained after transfer to water. This method produces water-soluble nanoparticles with a narrower dispersity than is possible with direct aqueous synthesis.


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