One-pot synthesis of green-emitting gold nanoclusters as a fluorescent probe for determination of 4-nitrophenol


A hydrothermal method was applied to the synthesis of green-emitting gold nanoclusters (Au NCs) which are shown to be viable fluorescent probes for 4-nitrophenol (4-NP). The Au NCs were prepared by using thiol-β-cyclodextrin as a template. Under 365 nm excitation, their green fluorescence has a peak at 502 nm, with a narrow emission bandwidth of only 30 nm. The fluorescence and composition of the Au NCs were characterized and the mechanism of the nanocluster formation is discussed. Due to host-guest recognition of β-cyclodextrin and 4-NP, fluorescence is quenched. The probe can selectively recognize 4-NP among other nitrophenols. A fluorometric and colorimetric assay was developed for 4-NP that works in the 0.1 to 100 μM concentration range and has a detection limit of 90 nM (at 3σ).

Schematic representation of hydrothermal synthesis of green-emitting gold nanoclusters using thiol-β-cyclodextrin. Fluorescence is quenched and the absorption of the nanoclusters is increases in the presence of 4-nitrophenol.

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This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 21565030), Program for Excellent Young Talents of Yunnan University and National Demonstration Center for Experimental Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Education (Yunnan University).

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Correspondence to Jian Ling or Qiu-E Cao.

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Li, Y., Wen, QL., Liu, AY. et al. One-pot synthesis of green-emitting gold nanoclusters as a fluorescent probe for determination of 4-nitrophenol. Microchim Acta 187, 106 (2020).

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  • Metal nanoclusters
  • Thiol-β-cyclodextrin
  • Host-guest recognition
  • Fluorometry
  • Colorimetry