Highly Sensitive and ultra-small Rhenium (Re) metal nanoparticles (NPs) were successfully stabilized in water by the staging and fencing action of the versatile biomolecule DNA that resulted in two distinct aggregated chain-like morphologies with average grain sizes of 1.1 ± 0.1 nm and 0.7 ± 0.1 nm for the very first time within a minute of reaction time. Re NPs are formed by the borohydride reduction of ammonium perrhenate (NH4ReO4) in the presence of DNA at room temperature (RT) under stirring. The morphologies were controlled by carefully monitoring the molar ratio of NH4ReO4 and DNA. The synthesized material was employed in two potential applications: as a substrate for surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) studies and as a catalyst for the reduction of aromatic nitro compounds. SERS study was carried out by taking methylene blue (MB) as the probe and the highest SERS enhancement factor (EF) of 2.07 × 107 was found for the aggregated chain-like having average grain size of 0.7 ± 0.1 nm. Catalytic reduction of 4-nitro phenol (4-NP), 2-nitro phenol (2-NP) and 4-nitroaniline (4-NA) with a rate constant value of 6 × 10−2 min−1, 33.83 × 10−2 min−1 and 37.4 × 10−2 min−1 have testified the excellent catalytic performance of our Re NPs immobilized on DNA. The overall study have revealed the capability of DNA in stabilizing the highly reactive Re metal at nanoscale and made them applicable in practice. The present route can also be extended to prepare one dimensional (1-D), self-assembled NPs of other reactive metals, mixed metals or even metal oxides for specific applications in water based solutions.
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