Fluorescent, DNA-stabilized silver nanoclusters (DNA-AgNCs) are applied in a range of applications within nanoscience and nanotechnology. However, their diverse optical properties, mechanism of formation, and aspects of their composition remain unexplored, making the rational design of nanocluster probes challenging. Herein, a synthetic procedure is described for obtaining a high yield of emissive DNA-AgNCs with a C-loop hairpin DNA sequence, with subsequent purification by size-exclusion chromatography (SEC). Through a combination of optical spectroscopy, gel electrophoresis, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) in conjunction with the systematic study of various DNA sequences, the low-resolution structure and mechanism of the formation of AgNCs were investigated. Data indicate that fluorescent DNA-AgNCs self-assemble by a head-to-head binding of two DNA hairpins, bridged by a silver nanocluster, resulting in the modelling of a dimeric structure harboring an Ag12 cluster.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
S.W.Y. would like to acknowledge that this work was supported by the Korea Research Fellowship Program funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT (NRF-2017H1D3A1A01014182, NRF-2017M2A2A6A04093177). M.J.B. would like to acknowledge grants from the Novo-Nordisk Foundation (NNF16OC0021832 and NNF17OC0029548).
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