Effect of particle diameter and surface composition on the spontaneous fusion of monolayer-protected gold nanoparticles with lipid bilayers

Reid C. Van Lehn, Prabhani U. Atukorale, Randy Carney, Yu Sang Yang, Francesco Stellacci, Darrell J. Irvine, Alfredo Alexander-Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

140 Scopus citations


Anionic, monolayer-protected gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) have been shown to nondisruptively penetrate cellular membranes. Here, we show that a critical first step in the penetration process is potentially the fusion of such AuNPs with lipid bilayers. Free energy calculations, experiments on unilamellar and multilamellar vesicles, and cell studies all support this hypothesis. Furthermore, we show that fusion is only favorable for AuNPs with core diameters below a critical size that depends on the monolayer composition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4060-4067
Number of pages8
JournalNano Letters
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 11 2013
Externally publishedYes



  • cell penetration
  • gold nanoparticle
  • lipid bilayer
  • membrane insertion
  • snorkeling
  • surface monolayer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering

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