Extremely stable, water-soluble gold nanoparticles 3 capable of specific molecular recognition of pyridinium ions in aqueous systems are prepared. The particles are stabilized and solubilized by thioalkylated oligoethylene glycol ligands 1. Specific recognition was achieved by thiol-modified calixarene ligands 2. The strongly colored gold particles also served as readily detectable optical markers for the specific binding events.
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