We have prepared colloidal solutions of clusters composed from porous silicon nanoparticles in methanol, water and phosphate-buffered saline (PBS). Even if the size of the nanoclusters is between 60 and 500 nm, due to their highly porous " cauliflower " -like structure, the porous silicon nanoparticles are composed of interconnected nanocrystals having around 2.5 nm in size and showing strong visible luminescence in the orange-red spectral region (centred at 600–700 nm). Hydrophilic behaviour and good solubility of the nanoclusters in water and water-based solutions were obtained by adding hydrogen peroxide into the etching solution during preparation and 16 min long after-bath in hydrogen peroxide. By simple filtration of the solutions with syringe filters, we have extracted smaller nanoclusters with sizes of approx. 60–70 nm; however, these nanoclusters in water and PBS solution (pH neutral) are prone to agglomeration, as was confirmed by zeta potential measurements. When the samples were left at ambient conditions for several weeks, the typical nanocluster size increased to approx. 330–400 nm and then remained stable. However, both freshly filtered and aged samples (with agglomerated porous silicon nanoparticles) of porous silicon in water and PBS solutions can be further used for biological studies or as luminescent markers in living cells.
Herynková, K., Šlechta, M., Šimáková, P., Fučíková, A., & Cibulka, O. (2016). Agglomeration of Luminescent Porous Silicon Nanoparticles in Colloidal Solutions. Nanoscale Research Letters, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s11671-016-1593-4