AFM characterization of dendrimer-stabilized platinum nanoparticles

Yunlong Gu, Hong Xie, Jinxin Gao, Dongxia Liu, Christopher T. Williams, Catherine J. Murphy, Harry J. Ploehn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This work describes the use of atomic force microscopy (AFM) to measure the size of dendrimer-stabilized Pt nanoparticles (Pt DNs) deposited from aqueous solutions onto mica surfaces. Despite considerable previous work in this area, we do not fully understand the mechanisms by which PAMAM dendrimers template the formation of Pt DNs. In particular, Pt DN sizes measured by high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) are reported to be larger than expected if one assumes that each PAMAM molecule templates one spherical Pt nanoparticle. AFM provides a vertical height measurement that complements the lateral dimension measurement from HRTEM. We show that AFM height measurements can distinguish between "empty" PAMAM and Pt DNs. If the complexation of Pt precursor with PAMAM is prematurely terminated, AFM images and feature height distributions show evidence of arrested precipitation of Pt colloids. In contrast, sufficient Pt-PAMAM complexation time leads to AFM images and height distributions that have relatively narrow, normal distributions with mean values that increase with the nominal Pt:PAMAM ratio. The surface density of features in AFM images suggest that these Pt DNs reside on the mica surface as two-dimensional surface aggregates. These observations are consistent with an intradendrimer templating mechanism for Pt DNs. However, we cannot determine if the mechanism obeys a fixed loading law because we do not have definitive information about Pt DN shape. A second peak in the Pt DN height distribution appears when the Pt loading exceeds about 66% of PAMAM's theoretical capacity for Pt. Excluding these secondary particles, the dependence of mean feature height on the Pt: PAMAM ratio follows a power-law relationship. Also considering the magnitudes of the measured mean height values, the data suggest that Pt DNs exist as ramified, noncompact aggregates of Pt atoms interspersed within the PAMAM framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3122-3131
Number of pages10
Issue number7
StatePublished - Mar 29 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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