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Pulsed laser ablation of Au target in n-alkanes generates Au sols. Experiments have been performed using the second harmonic of a Nd:yttritium–aluminum–garnet at 532 nm wavelength with a 5 ns pulse duration at a repetition rate of 10 Hz and fluences ranging from 1 to 200 J/cm2. Data coming from optical extinction show that the length of the hydrocarbon chain is able to tune the shape of the produced particles and the rate of formation in a controlled way. The data are supported by atomic force microscopy and transmission electron microscope observations. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.