Gold nanoparticles (AuNP) exhibit particular plasmonic properties when stimulated by visible light, which makes them a promising tool to many applications in sensor technology and biomedical applications, especially when associated to sulfur-based compounds. Sulfur species form a great variety of self-assembled structures that cap AuNP and this interaction rules the optical and plasmonic properties of the system. Here, we report the behavior of citrate-stabilized gold nanospheres in two distinct sulfur colloidal solutions, namely, thiocyanate and sulfide ionic solutions. Citrate-capped gold nanospheres were characterized using ultraviolet–visible (UV-Vis) absorption, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), and atomic force microscopy (AFM). In the presence of sulfur species, we have observed the formation of NP clusters and chain-like structures, giving rise to surface-enhanced effects. Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) pointed to a modification in citrate vibrational modes, which suggests substitution of citrate by either thiocyanate or sulfide ions with distinct dynamics, as showed by in situ fluorescence. Moreover, we report the emergence of surface-enhanced infrared absorption (SEIRA) effect, which corroborates SERS conclusions. Further, SEIRA shows a great potential as a tool for specification of sulfur compounds in colloidal solutions, which is particularly useful when dealing with sensor technology.
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