Direct Synthesis of Radioactive Gold Nanoparticles Using a Research Nuclear Reactor


We report the single-step synthesis of radioactive gold nanoparticles with an activity and size appropriate for potential use in cancer treatment and diagnosis. Methods: A solution of 2 mM gold chloride (HAuCl4&3H2O), 1 mM polyvinylpyrrolidone (molecular weight, 360,000), and 60 mM 2-propanol was prepared in deionized water. Seven different samples of the solution were irradiated in a neutron flux of 7.45 x 1012 n/cm2·s in a research reactor for 0.5, 1, 3, 5, 10, 30, or 60 min. The resulting nanoparticles were characterized for morphology and chemical composition using a transmission electron microscope and ImageJ. Results: The obtained nanoparticles were 3-450 nm in size. The average size depended on the length of irradiation, with a longer irradiation producing smaller nanoparticles. Irradiation for 10 min produced nanoparticles with characteristics suitable for potential cancer treatment and diagnosis (average size, 50 nm; activity, 6.85 MBq/mL). Conclusion: Direct production of chemically stable radioactive gold nanoparticles was successfully accomplished using the Missouri University of Science and Technology reactor. The nanoparticles had physical and radioactive characteristics potentially useful for cancer treatment and diagnosis.


Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Science

Research Center/Lab(s)

Center for High Performance Computing Research


We are grateful to William Bonzer and the staff of the Missouri University of Science and Technology reactor for assistance with experimental irradiation. Also, we appreciate the support of the Materials Research Center (MRC) at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Keywords and Phrases

2 propanol; Deionized water; Gold chloride; Gold nanoparticles; Povidone; Gold; Metal nanoparticle; Article; Cancer diagnosis; Cancer therapy; Chemical composition; Chemical structure; Drug synthesis; Particle size; Radioactivity; Transmission electron microscopy; Chemistry; Devices; Nuclear reactor; Radiochemistry; Gold; Metal Nanoparticles; Nuclear Reactors; Radiochemistry; Cancer nanotechnology; Cancer treatment and diagnosis; Nanomaterials; Radioactive nanoparticles

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

0091-4916; 1535-5675

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2018 Society of Nuclear Medicine Inc., All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Sep 2018