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Settling of gold nanoparticles on the bottom of the storage flask is completely normal and is especially common for larger sized particles, which settles at greater speed. Settling does not affect the performance of the particles. Prior to use, simply swirl the solution to properly disperse your gold nanoparticles and obtain a homogenous solution.
Due to repulsive forces arising from the surface charge of gold nanoparticles, an energy barrier must be overcome for individual particles to interact. When no (or small) amounts of electrolytes such as NaCl is present, this energy barrier is too strong for interaction to occur between particles. However, upon addition of NaCl this energy barrier is reduced allowing the gold nanoparticles to interact and aggregate. This aggregation causes a phenomenon called surface-plasmon coupling which changes the adsorption maximum of light to a higher wavelength resulting in a change in color of the solution.
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