Humic acid-induced silver nanoparticle formation under environmentally relevant conditions. Academic Article uri icon


  • The formation of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) via reduction of silver ions (Ag(+)) in the presence of humic acids (HAs) under various environmentally relevant conditions is described. HAs tested originated from the Suwannee River (SUW), and included samples of three sedimentary HAs (SHAs), and five soils obtained across the state of Florida. The time required to form AgNPs varied depending upon the type and concentration of HA, as well as temperature. SUW and all three SHAs reduced Ag(+) at 22 C. However, none of the soil HAs formed absorbance-detectable AgNPs at room temperature when allowed to react for a period of 25 days, at which time experiments were halted. The appearance of the characteristic surface plasmon resonance (SPR) of AgNPs was observed by ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy in as few as 2-4 days at 22 C for SHAs and SUW. An elevated temperature of 90 C resulted in the accelerated appearance of the SPR within 90 min for SUW and all SHAs. The formation of AgNPs at 90 C was usually complete within 3 h. Transmission electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy images showed that the AgNPs formed were typically spherical and had a broad size distribution. Dynamic light scattering also revealed polydisperse particle size distributions. HAs appeared to colloidally stabilize AgNPs based on lack of any significant change in the spectral characteristics over a period of two months. The results suggest the potential for direct formation of AgNPs under environmental conditions from Ag(+) sources, implying that not all AgNPs observed in natural waters today may be of anthropogenic origin.

published proceedings

  • Environ Sci Technol

altmetric score

  • 10

author list (cited authors)

  • Akaighe, N., Maccuspie, R. I., Navarro, D. A., Aga, D. S., Banerjee, S., Sohn, M., & Sharma, V. K.

citation count

  • 253

complete list of authors

  • Akaighe, Nelson||Maccuspie, Robert I||Navarro, Divina A||Aga, Diana S||Banerjee, Sarbajit||Sohn, Mary||Sharma, Virender K

publication date

  • May 2011