Effect of poly(ethylene oxide)-silane graft molecular weight on the colloidal properties of iron oxide nanoparticles for biomedical applications.
ABSTRACT The size, charge, and stability of colloidal suspensions of magnetic nanoparticles with narrow size distribution and grafted with poly(ethylene glycol)-silane of different molecular weights were studied in water, biological buffers, and cell culture media. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy provided information on the chemical nature of the nanoparticle surface, indicating the particle surfaces consisted of a mixture of amine groups and grafted polymer. The results indicate that the exposure of the amine groups on the surface decreased as the molecular weight of the polymer increased. The hydrodynamic diameters correlated with PEG graft molecular weight and were in agreement with a distributed density model for the thickness of a polymer shell end-grafted to a particle core. This indicates that the particles obtained consist of single iron oxide cores coated with a polymer brush. Particle surface charge and hydrodynamic diameter were measured as a function of pH, ionic strength, and in biological buffers and cell culture media. DLVO theory was used to analyze the particle stability considering electrostatic, magnetic, steric, and van der Waals interactions. Experimental results and colloidal stability theory indicated that stability changes from electrostatically mediated for a graft molecular weight of 750 g/mol to sterically mediated at molecular weights of 1000 g/mol and above. These results indicate that a graft molecular weight above 1000 g/mol is needed to produce particles that are stable in a wide range of pH and ionic strength, and in cell culture media.