Thin gold films offer intriguing material properties for potential applications including fuel cells, supercapacitors, and electronic and photonic devices. We describe here an ambient filtration method that provides a simple and novel way to generate rapidly porous and thin gold films without the need for sophisticated instruments, clean-room environments, and any postgrowth process or sintering steps. Using this approach, we can fabricate highly conductive gold films composed of gold nanoparticles layered atop a matrix of metallic single-walled carbon nanotubes on mixed cellulose ester filter paper within 20 min. These hybrid films (thickness ∼40 nm) exhibit fast electron transfer and excellent electrocatalytic properties that are similar to purchased gold films, but with a larger electroactive surface that lends itself to more sensitive analyte detection. We used the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin as benchmark analytes to demonstrate that our hybrid gold films can clearly discriminate the presence of both molecules in a mixture with resolution that greatly exceeds that of either purchased gold slides or electrodeposited gold films. Importantly, we postulate that this new approach could readily be generalized for the rapid fabrication of films from various other metals under ambient conditions, and could also be used as a prelude to transferring the resulting films onto glass or other flexible substrates.
Keywords: electrocatalytic response; film conductivity; gold nanoparticles; paper-based hybrid porous gold film; single-walled carbon nanotubes; vacuum filtration.