Structure of a Thiol Monolayer-Protected Gold Nanoparticle at 1.1 A Resolution

Science. 2007 Oct 19;318(5849):430-3. doi: 10.1126/science.1148624.


Structural information on nanometer-sized gold particles has been limited, due in part to the problem of preparing homogeneous material. Here we report the crystallization and x-ray structure determination of a p-mercaptobenzoic acid (p-MBA)-protected gold nanoparticle, which comprises 102 gold atoms and 44 p-MBAs. The central gold atoms are packed in a Marks decahedron, surrounded by additional layers of gold atoms in unanticipated geometries. The p-MBAs interact not only with the gold but also with one another, forming a rigid surface layer. The particles are chiral, with the two enantiomers alternating in the crystal lattice. The discrete nature of the particle may be explained by the closing of a 58-electron shell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Benzoates / chemistry*
  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Chemistry, Physical
  • Crystallization
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Gold / chemistry*
  • Macromolecular Substances / chemistry*
  • Metal Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Models, Chemical
  • Molecular Structure
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds / chemistry*


  • Benzoates
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds
  • 4-mercaptobenzoate
  • Gold