Decomposition of Amino Acids Catalyzed by Plasmonic Gold Nanoparticles

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Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) are known catalytically active in many reactions such as CO/NO oxidation and selective oxidation of benzaldehyde. However, very few studies have been devoted to understanding how AuNPs catalyze reactions of biorelated molecules such as amino acids absorbed on their surface even though AuNPs have found broad biomedical applications. Herein, we report that AuNPs can behave like some enzymes in nature, catalyzing the decomposition of glycine into cyanide at ambient conditions. Highly sensitive surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) spectroscopy was used to probe this decomposition reaction at the chemical level. In addition, the excitation of surface plasmons was also found to further enhance this catalytic process. Not limited to glycine, other amino acids such as alanine and asparagine can also be decomposed into cyanide under the same conditions, suggesting that gold nanocatalysis on the decomposition of amino acids is a general phenomenon.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 1, 2012

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  • Science of Advanced Materials (SAM) is an interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal consolidating research activities in all aspects of advanced materials in the fields of science, engineering and medicine into a single and unique reference source. SAM provides the means for materials scientists, chemists, physicists, biologists, engineers, ceramicists, metallurgists, theoreticians and technocrats to publish original research articles as reviews with author's photo and short biography, full research articles and communications of important new scientific and technological findings, encompassing the fundamental and applied research in all latest aspects of advanced materials.
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