Synthesis of positively charged silver nanoparticles via photoreduction of AgNO3 in branched polyethyleneimine/HEPES solutions.
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Branched polyethyleneimine (BPEI) and 4-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1-piperazineethanesulfonic acid (HEPES) were used collaboratively to reduce silver nitrate under UV irradiation for the synthesis of positively charged silver nanoparticles. The effects of molar ratio of the ingredients and the molecular weight of BPEI on the particle size and distribution were investigated. The mechanism for the reduction of Ag+ ions in the BPEI/HEPES mixtures entails oxidative cleavage of BPEI chains that results in the formation of positively charged BPEI fragments enriched with amide groups as well as in the production of formaldehyde, which serves as a reducing agent for Ag+ ions. The resultant silver nanoparticles are positively charged due to protonation of surface amino groups. Importantly, these positively charged Ag nanoparticles demonstrate superior SERS activity over negatively charged citrate reduced Ag nanoparticles for the detection of thiocyanate and perchlorate ions; therefore, they are promising candidates for sensing and detection of a variety of negatively charged analytes in aqueous solutions using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS).