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Design Of Artificial Membrane Transporters From Gold Nanoparticles With Controllable Hydrophobicity

Marcin P. Grzelczak, Alexander P. Hill, Domagoj Belic, Dan F. Bradley, Casper Kunstmann-Olsen, Mathias Brust

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Gold nanoparticles with variable hydrophobicity have been prepared in three different size regimes following established methods. The control of hydrophobicity was achieved by complexation of the 18-crown-6-CH2-thiolate ligand shell with potassium ions. Potassium dependent phase transfer of these particles from dispersion in water to chloroform was demonstrated, and the equilibrium partitioning of the particles in water–chloroform liquid/liquid systems was quantified by optical spectroscopy. The gradual complexation of the ligand shell with potassium ions was further monitored by zeta potential measurements. Potassium dependent insertion of nanoparticles into the phospholipid bilayer membrane of vesicles in aqueous dispersion has been demonstrated by cryogenic transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM). Nanoparticle-dependent potassium ion transport across the vesicle membrane has been established by monitoring the membrane potential with fluorescence spectroscopy using a potential sensitive dye.