The synthesis of a luminescent quantum cluster (QC) of gold with a quantum yield of ∼4% is reported. It was synthesized in gram quantities by the core etching of mercaptosuccinic acid protected gold nanoparticles by bovine serum albumin (BSA), abbreviated as Au QC@BSA. The cluster was characterized and a core of Au 38 was assigned tentatively from mass spectrometric analysis. Luminescence of the QC is exploited as a "turn-off" sensor for Cu 2+ ions and a "turn-on" sensor for glutathione detection. Metal-enhanced luminescence (MEL) of this QC in the presence of silver nanoparticles is demonstrated and a ninefold maximum enhancement is seen. This is the first report of the observation of MEL from QCs. Folic acid conjugated Au QC@BSA was found to be internalized to a significant extent by oral carcinoma KB cells through folic acid mediated endocytosis. The inherent luminescence of the internalized Au QC@BSA was used in cell imaging. © 2010 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
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M. A. H. Muhammed, Verma, P. K., Pal, S. K., Retnakumari, A., Koyakutty, M., Nair, S. V., and Pradeep, T., “Luminescent quantum clusters of gold in bulk by albumin-induced core etching of nanoparticles: Metal ion sensing, metal-enhanced luminescence, and biolabeling”, Chemistry - A European Journal, vol. 16, pp. 10103-10112, 2010.