Nanoparticles imprinted matrices (NAIMs) is a new approach, in which nanoparticles (NPs) are imprinted in a matrix followed by their removal to form highly selective voids that can recognize the original NPs. In this study, the effect of a sol-gel matrix on the imprinting and reuptake of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) is examined. Specifically, indium tin oxide (ITO) films were modified with a positively charged polymer, on which the negatively charged AuNPs stabilized with citrate (AuNPs-cit) were adsorbed. This was followed by the electrochemical deposition of sol-gel matrices with different thicknesses and functional groups onto the ITO/AuNPs-cit. Electrochemical oxidation dissolved the AuNPs-cit and formed cavities in the sol-gel films, which fit both the size and shape of the AuNPs-cit. Reuptake of these NPs from an aqueous solution was successful using the imprinted films, whereas the non-imprinted films did not re-uptake the AuNPs-cit. Furthermore, the thickness of the sol-gel layers as well as the type of the silanes that were deposited play an important role on the recognition ability of the NAIM. Finally, we found that the NAIMs are selective, and larger AuNPs-cit were not recognized by the imprinted matrix.
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