Effect of glycine on aggregation of citrate-functionalised gold nanoparticles and SERS measurements

Maria J. Vesga, David McKechnie, Stacey Laing, Hayleigh Kearns, Karen Faulds, Karen Johnston, Jan Sefcik

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Surface enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) can be used as a novel way of probing local liquid composition and structure at solid-liquid interfaces. This is particularly important for understanding the mechanism of heterogeneous nucleation from solution, where solutes are present at relatively high concentrations. To obtain information about the solution composition and structure near a gold nanoparticle (AuNP) surface, which facilitates SERS, it is thus necessary to understand the role of the analyte in AuNP aggregation, and its effect on the SERS signal and the Raman signal from the bulk. We have used dynamic light scattering and UV-Vis spectroscopy to investigate how glycine influences the aggregation of citrate-functionalised gold nanoparticles (AuNPs), and thus the SERS response, in glycine aqueous solutions. At pH 4 the AuNP suspensions in aqueous solutions (without glycine) did not aggregate due to the electrostatic stabilisation by negatively charged citrate functional groups. However, the addition of glycine promoted aggregation of the AuNPs, concomitantly increasing the strength of the SERS signal. Under these conditions glycine is zwitterionic, and its effect on the colloidal stability of AuNPs is most likely due to its association with citrate, affecting its charge state, resulting in reduction of the electrostatic stabilisation of the AuNPs. Using SERS as a solid-liquid interface probe provides a window into an interplay of interfacial and colloidal phenomena in the AuNP suspensions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126523
Number of pages15
JournalColloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects
Early online date6 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2021


  • glycine
  • aggregation
  • citrate-functionalised gold nanoparticles
  • SERS
  • measurements


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