In some respects, large noble-metal clusters protected by thiolate ligands behave as giant molecules of definite composition and structure; however, their rigorous analysis continues to be quite challenging. Analysis of complex mixtures of intact monolayer-protected clusters (MPCs) by liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS) could provide quantitative identification of the various components present. This advance is critical for biomedical and toxicological research, as well as in fundamental studies that rely on the identification of selected compositions. This work expands upon the separate LC and MS results previously achieved, by interfacing the capillary liquid chromatograph directly to the electrospray source of the mass spectrometer, in order to provide an extremely sensitive, quantitative, and rapid means to characterize MPCs and their derivatives far beyond that of earlier reports. Here, we show that nonaqueous reversed-phase chromatography can be coupled to mass-spectrometry detection to resolve complex mixtures in minute (∼100 ng) samples of gold MPCs, of molecular masses up to ∼40 kDa, and with single-species sensitivity easily demonstrated for components on the level of sub-10 ng or picomole (1 pmol).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry