Nanometer-sized gold particles (AuNPs) are of peculiar interest because their behaviors in an aqueous solution are sensitive to changes in environmental factors including the size and shape of the solute ions. In order to determine these important characteristics, we performed all-atom molecular dynamics simulations on the icosahedral Au144 nanoparticles each coated with a homogeneous set of 60 thiolates (4-mercaptobenzoate, pMBA) in eight aqueous solutions having ions of varying sizes and shapes (Na+, K+, tetramethylamonium cation TMA+, tris-ammonium cation TRS+, Cl-, and OH-). For each solution, we computed the reversible work (potential of mean of force) to bring two nanoparticles together as a function of their separation distance. We found that the behavior of pMBA protected Au144 nanoparticles can be readily modulated by tuning their aqueous environmental factors (pH and solute ion combinations). We examined the atomistic details on how the sizes and shapes of solute ions quantitatively factor in the definitive characteristics of nanoparticle-environment and nanoparticle-nanoparticle interactions. We predict that tuning the concentrations of nonspherical composite ions such as TRS+ in an aqueous solution of AuNPs be an effective means to modulate the aggregation propensity desired in biomedical and other applications of small charged nanoparticles.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry