Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Jorge L. Gardea-Torresdey


Extraordinary chemical and physical properties exhibited by nanomaterials, as compared to their bulk counterparts, have made the area of nanotechnology a growing realm in the past three decades. It is the nanoscale size (from 1 to 100 nm) and the morphologies of nanomaterials that provide several properties and applications not possible for the same material in the bulk. Magnetic and optical properties, as well as surface reactivity are highly dependent on the size and morphology of the nanomaterial. Diverse nanomaterials are being widely used in molecular diagnostics as well as in medicine, electronic and optical devices. Among the most studied nanomaterials, gold nanoparticles are of special interest due to their multifunctional capabilities. For instance, spherical gold nanoparticles measuring 15-20 nm in diameter have been studied due to their insulin binding properties. Also, thiol functionalized gold nanoparticles between 5 and 30 nm are used in the detection of DNA. Thus, harnessing the shape and size of gold nanoparticles plays an important role in science and technology.

The synthesis of gold nanoparticles via the reduction of gold salts, using citrate or other reducing agents, has been widely studied. In recent years, algae, fungi, bacteria, and living plants have been used to reduce trivalent gold (Au3+) to its zero oxidation state (Au0) forming gold nanoparticles of different sizes and shapes. In addition, plant biomasses have also been studied for their gold-reducing power and nanoparticle formation. Although there is information about the synthesis of the gold nanoparticles by biologically based materials; to our knowledge, the study of the use of alfalfa extracts has not been reported. This innovation represents a significant improvement; that is an environmentally friendly method that does not use toxic chemicals. Also, the problem of extracting the formed gold nanoparticles from biomaterials is addressed in this research but still remains to be solved.

In this work, secondary metabolites were extracted from alfalfa biomass in liquid phase by hot water, isopropanol, and methanol, and used to reduce tetrachloroaurate ion (AuCl4-) for the synthesis of gold nanoparticles. Biosyntheses of gold nanoparticles were performed by mixing 0.75, 1.5 and 3.0 mM Au3+ solutions with each one of the extracts at a ratio of 3:1 respectively, and shaken at room temperature for 1h. Resulting gold colloids were characterized by UV-Vis spectrophotometry and electron microscopy techniques, showing size and morphology dependency on the reaction conditions. Isopropanol alfalfa extracts reacted with Au3+ produced gold nanoparticles with a size range of 15-60 nm. The most abundant were from 40-50 nm, and the morphologies found were polygons, decahedra and icosahedra. Methanol alfalfa extracts produced monodisperse 50 nm decahedral and icosahedral gold nanoparticles. Lastly, water alfalfa extracts reacted with Au3+ produced triangular, truncated triangular and hexagonal nanoplates with diameters ranging from 500 nm to 4 μm and thicknesses of ~15-40 nm. The production of gold nanoplates by alfalfa extracts has never been reported before.

In order to extract the formed gold nanoparticles from the biomass, physical and chemical extractions were used. For the chemical extraction, NaCl, dilute H2SO4, Triton X and DI water were tested. In these cases, the best results were obtained with DI water, followed by NaCl. The extracted nanoparticles had an absorption band at about 539 nm. For the physical extractions, alfalfa biomass containing gold nanoparticles were exposed to 400 °C, 500 °C, 550 °C and 600 °C to recover the gold nanoparticles. X-ray diffractograms taken after pyrolysis of the biomass showed that the recovered nanoparticles kept their crystal structure.




Received from ProQuest

File Size

73 pages

File Format


Rights Holder

Milka Odemariz Montes Castillo