Quantized Electron-Transfer Pathways at Nanoparticle–Redox Centre Hybrids



Hexanethiolate gold monolayer-protected clusters (C6-MPCs) with an average core diameter of 1.8 nm and a capacitance of 0.6 aF are synthesised by a two-phase method. These clusters are functionalised with (6-ferrocenyl)-1-hexanethiol by a place exchange reaction at different molar ratios. The average number of ferrocene centres per cluster determined by 1H NMR is ten, seven and four. Differential pulse voltammetry and cyclic voltammetry measurements for cluster solutions in 0.1 M TBAPF6/Tol:AN (2:1) clearly show the response of the Fc+/Fc redox couple and of quantized double layer (QDL) charging events of the gold core. A transition from single to multiple electron-transfer response for the redox couple is observed as the number of ferrocene units per cluster is increased. The distances between the redox moieties are estimated considering a homogeneous distribution of the redox sites on the nanoparticle ligand shell. In all the cases, the inter-ferrocene average separation is too large to observe self-exchange reactions and the most likely electron-transfer pathway is by fast rotational diffusion. The oxidation of the ferrocene groups results in an electrostatic switching-off of electron transfers between the electrode and the nanoparticle core.