Langmuir, 2017, vol 33, 27, pp. 6785-6793
We have studied the products of the controversial synthesis of HAuCl4 with Na2S, which include gold nanostructures (Au NSs) that absorb in the near-infrared (NIR) region and are highly promising for photothermal therapies and other nanomedical applications. From high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, X-ray absorption spectroscopy, and small-angle X-ray scattering, we have found that only metallic Au NSs are formed as a result of this synthesis, with no detectable amount of gold sulfide or other oxidized gold species that could account for the NIR absorption. Different sulfur species are adsorbed on the Au NSs, mainly sulfides (monomeric sulfur) and polysulfides, similar to what is found on the planar gold surfaces, therefore precluding the idea that thiosulfate or other oxidized species are the actual reducing agents for Au(III) ions. The presence of strongly adsorbed S species, which are difficult to remove from the gold surface, is of great importance for their applications as regards toxicity and use of postfunctionalization strategies to anchor biomolecules and/or to increase circulation time after administration.