Oppositely charged nanoparticles precipitate rapidly only at the point of electroneutrality, wherein their charges are macroscopically compensated. We investigated the aggregation and precipitation of oppositely charged nanoparticles at concentrations ranging from 10 to 10−3 mm (based on gold atoms) by using UV/Vis measurements. We employed solutions of equally sized (4.6 nm) gold nanoparticles, which were functionalized and stabilized with either positively or with negatively charged alkanethiols. Results showed that oppositely charged nanoparticles do not precipitate if their concentration is below a certain threshold even if the electroneutrality condition is fulfilled. This finding suggests a universal behavior of chemical systems comprising oppositely charged building blocks such as ions and charged nanoparticles.
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