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Preparation of gold decorated cobalt-silica core-shell nanoparticles for surface enhanced raman scattering applications

Keser, Lütfiye Sezen
Bringing together several materials into a single nanoparticle is an attractive way to design systems that exhibit diverse physical and chemical properties. Cobalt nanoparticles are extensively used in magnetic separation, ferrofluids, and magnetic storage media. The deposition of gold nanoparticles onto cobalt core significantly affects their optical properties due to the introduction of surface Plasmon. Here the synthesis of gold nanoparticles decorated cobalt-silica nanoparticles are reported for the first time. Their optical and magnetic properties and capacity as a surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) substrate were investigated. This nano-material is of particular interest as a dual agent allowing both magnetic separation and SERS detection. The synthesis involves three steps: i) synthesis of Co nanoparticles; ii) deposition of a silica shell around the Co core and introduction of amine functional groups on the surface; iii) decoration of the surface with gold nanoparticles. Co nanoparticles were prepared in an inert atmosphere in the presence of capping and reducing agents. Size of the cobalt nanoparticles was varied by changing the concentration of the capping agent. Since cobalt particles are easily oxidized, they were coated with silica shell both to prevent oxidation and allow further functionalization. Silica coating of the particles were performed in water/ethanolic solution of tetraethyl orthosilicate (TEOS). Thickness of silica coating was controlled by varying the concentrations of TEOS. Besides, by adding 3-aminopropyl-triethoxysilane (APTS) to the reaction medium, primarily amine groups were introduced on the silica surface. For further modifications citrate stabilized gold nanoparticles were appended onto the surface of amine modified core-shell cobalt-silica nanoparticles. Gold decorated magnetic core-shell structures were used as SERS substrate with Raman dyes; brilliant cresyl blue (BCB) and rhodamine 6G (R6G). They were also utilized for preconcentration and SERS detection of 4-mercapto benzoic acid (4-MBA). Gold nanoparticles on the silica and thiol group on the 4-MBA were very selective to each other, thus, 4-MBA could be attached on to gold surface and it could be easily separated magnetically from the reaction medium and identified by Raman spectroscopy. Characterization of the cobalt, cobalt-silica and gold modified cobalt-silica nanoparticles was done by Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy (FE-SEM), Scanning-Transmission Electron Microscopy (S-TEM), Energy-Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDX), UV-Vis spectrometry, and Raman microscope system.