Publication Date

Summer 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Chemical and Materials Engineering


Melanie McNeil


electroless, gold, plasmon, star polymer

Subject Areas

Engineering, Chemical; Engineering, Materials Science


As an alternative technique, electroless deposition is gaining interest due to its simplicity (solution-based process, no complex instrumentation), economical aspect, and effectiveness to form certain desired film thicknesses and morphologies on a wide variety of substrates. This work describes the use of water-soluble, polyvalent star polymer templates to form spontaneous self-limiting monolayers on complimentary functionalized substrates that act as efficient adhesion layers for the electroless deposition of thin gold films. The resulting gold films display outstanding thickness control, uniformity, reproducibility, and plasmon resonance generation, as evaluated by Rutherford backscattering spectroscopy (RBS), surface plasmon resonance (SPR) spectroscopy, and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The adaptation of this technique to the formation of core-shell gold nanoparticles was also shown to be feasible. The synthesized star polymer-templated gold nanoshells display a tunable NIR absorption depending on their size. By utilizing star polymers as templates, other materials such as drugs or chromophores can be effortlessly embedded inside the star polymer via self-assembled occlusion complex formation. This ability coupled with the efficacy of gold nanoshells in absorbing NIR light and transferring the light energy as heat to their surrounding environment can lead to an integrated form of imaging contrast, drug-delivery system, and photothermal ablation agent.