The gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) conjugated with carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and/or biomolecules such as DNA are synthesized using a novel plasma technique combined with introduction of ionic liquids or aqueous solution for application to life sciences.
First, we successfully generate the gas-liquid interfacial discharge plasma (GLIDP) using an ionic liquid, in which the large sheath electric field is formed on the ionic liquid and the plasma ion irradiation to the ionic liquid with high energy is realized.
Second, it is found that the high energy ion irradiation to the ionic liquid is effective for the synthesis of the AuNPs. Furthermore, the controlled ion irradiation to the ionic liquid including a carboxyl group can realize the density-controlled synthesis of the AuNPs on the CNTs by dissociation of the ionic liquid and the controlled functionalization of the CNTs by the dissociated carboxyl group.
Third, the size- and morphology-controlled AuNPs covered with DNA are synthesized using the GLIDP with aqueous solution, where DNA prevents the AuNPs from further clustering, resulting in the small-sized AuNPs. The synthesized AuNPs conjugated with DNA can be encapsulated into the CNTs using the DC electric field. The CNTs work as vectors to deliver DNA into living cells because the CNTs have the unique ability to easily penetrate cell membranes with low cytotoxicity.