Surface PEGylation of silver nanoparticles: Kinetics of simultaneous surface dissolution and molecular desorption

Wei Chang Chang, Jui Ting Tai, Hsiao Fang Wang, Rong Ming Ho, Ta Chih Hsiao, De Hao Tsai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


A quantitative study of the stability of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) conjugated with thiolated polyethylene glycol (SH-PEG) was conducted using gas-phase ion-mobility and mass analyses. The extents of aggregation and surface dissolution of AgNPs, as well as the amount of SH-PEG adsorption and desorption, were able to be characterized simultaneously for the kinetic study. The results show that the SH-PEG with a molecular mass of 6 kg/mol (SH-PEG6K) was able to adsorb to the surface of AgNP to form PEG6K-HS-AgNP conjugates, with the maximum surface adsorbate density of ∼0.10 nm-2. The equilibrium binding constant for SH-PEG6K on AgNPs was calculated as ∼(4.4 ± 0.9) × 105 L/mol, suggesting a strong affinity due to thiol bonding to the AgNP surface. The formation of SH-PEG6K corona prevented PEG6K-HS-AgNP conjugates from aggregation under the acidic environment (pH 1.5), but dissolution of core AgNPs occurred following a first-order reaction. The rate constant of Ag dissolution from PEG6K-HS-AgNP was independent of the starting surface packing density of SH-PEG6K on AgNP (σ0), indicating that the interactions of H+ with core AgNP were not interfered by the presence of SH-PEG6K corona. The surface packing density of SH-PEG6K decreased simultaneously following a first-order reaction, and the desorption rate constant of SH-PEG6K from the conjugates was proportional to σ0. Our work presents the first quantitative study to illustrate the complex mechanism that involves simultaneous aggregation and dissolution of core AgNPs in combination with adsorption and desorption of SH-PEG. This work also provides a prototype method of coupled experimental scheme to quantify the change of particle mass versus the corresponding surface density of functional molecular species on nanoparticles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9807-9815
Number of pages9
Issue number38
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Sept 27
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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