Ultrafast cooling of photoexcited electrons in gold nanoparticle-thiolated DNA conjugates involves the dissociation of the gold-thiol bond

Prashant K. Jain, Wei Qian, Mostafa A. El-Sayed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Using UV-visible extinction spectroscopy and femtosecond pump-probe transient absorption spectroscopy, we have studied the effect of femtosecond laser heating on gold nanoparticles attached to DNA ligands via thiol groups. It is found that femtosecond pulse excitation of the DNA-modified nanoparticles at a wavelength of 400 nm leads to desorption of the thiolated DNA strands from the nanoparticle surface by the dissociation of the gold-sulfur bond. The laser-initiated gold-sulfur bond-breaking process is a new pathway for nonradiative relaxation of the optically excited electrons within the DNA-modified gold nanoparticles, as manifested by a faster decay rate of the excited electronic distribution at progressively higher laser pulse energies. The experimental results favor a bond dissociation mechanism involving the coupling between the photoexcited electrons of the nanoparticles and the gold-sulfur bond vibrations over one involving the conventional phonon-phonon thermal heating processes. The latter processes have been observed previously by our group to be effective in the selective photothermal destruction of cancer cells bound to anti-epidermal growth factor receptor-conjugated gold nanoparticles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2426-2433
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 22 2006
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry

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