The ability of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) to catalyze reactions involving radicals is poorly studied. However, AuNPs are used in applications where chemical reactions involving transient radicals occur. Herein, we investigate AuNPs’ catalytic effect on 2-propanol oxidation and acetanilide hydroxylation in aqueous solutions under ionizing radiation at room temperature. In both cases, the presence of AuNPs led to selective oxidation of organic radicals, significantly changing the products’ composition and ratio. Based on these observations, we stress how AuNPs’ catalytic activity can affect the correctness of reactive oxygen species concentration determination utilizing organic dyes. We also provide a discussion on the role of AuNPs’ catalytic activity in the radiosensitization effect actively studied for radiotherapy.
Gold nanoparticles are known to cause a radiosensitizing effect, which is a promising way to improve radiation therapy. However, the radiosensitization mechanism is not yet fully understood. It is currently assumed that gold nanoparticles can influence various physical, chemical, and biological processes. Pulse radiolysis is a powerful tool that can examine one of the proposed effects of gold nanoparticles, such as increased free radical production. In this work, we shed light on the consequence of ionizing radiation interaction with gold nanoparticles by direct measurements of solvated electrons using the pulse radiolysis technique. We found that at a therapeutically relevant gold concentration (<3 mM atomic gold, <600 μg × cm−3), the presence of gold nanoparticles in solution does not induce higher primary radicals’ formation. This result contradicts some hypotheses about free radical formation in the presence of gold nanoparticles under ionizing radiation previously reported in the literature.