Chemistry of Materials vol:19 issue:7 pages:1821-1831
Ferrite magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) were functionalized with a variety of silanes bearing different functional endgroups to render them stable with respect to aggregation and keep them well-dispersed in aqueous media. The MNPs were prepared by the thermal decomposition method, widely used for the synthesis of monodisperse nanoparticles with controllable size. This method makes use of a hydrophobic surfactant to passivate the surface, which results in nanoparticles that are solely dispersible in nonpolar solvents. For use in biological applications, these nanoparticles need to be made water-dispersible. Therefore, a new procedure was developed on the basis of the exchange of the hydrophobic surface ligands with silanes bearing different endgroups to decorate ferrite magnetic nanoparticles with diverse functionalities . By this means, we could easily determine the influence of the endgroup on the nanoparticle stability and water-dispersibility. Amino-, carboxylic acid- and poly(ethylene glycol)-terminated silanes were found to render the MNPs highly stable and water-dispersible because of electrostatic and/or steric repulsion. The silane molecules were also found to form a protective layer against mild acid and alkaline environments. The ligand exchange on the nanoparticle surface was thoroughly characterized using SQUID, TEM, XPS, DLS, TGA, FTIR, UV-vis, and zeta potential measurements. The presented approach provides a generic strategy to functionalize magnetic ferrite nanoparticles and to form stable dispersions in aqueous media, which facilitates the use of these magnetic nanoparticles in biological applications.