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Magnetic Properties Of Novel Superparamagnetic MRI Contrast Agents Based On Colloidal Nanocrystals

M. Corti, A. Lascialfari, A. Lascialfari, E. Micotti, A. Castellano, M. Donativi, A. Quarta, P. Cozzoli, L. Manna, T. Pellegrino, C. Sangregorio
Published 2008 · Materials Science

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Abstract Novel systems based on colloidal magnetic nanocrystals (NCs), potentially useful as superparamagnetic (SP) contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have been investigated. The NCs we have studied comprise organic-capped single-crystalline maghemite (γ-Fe 2 O 3 ) cores possessing controlled sizes and shapes. We have comparatively examined spherical and tetrapod-like NCs, the latter being branched particles possessing four arms which depart out at tetrahedral angles from a central point. The as-synthesized NCs are passivated by hydrophobic surfactant molecules and thus are fully dispersible in nonpolar media only. The NCs have been made soluble in aqueous solution by applying a procedure based on the surface intercalation and coating with an amphiphilic polymer shell. NMR relaxivities R 1 and R 2 were compared with ENDOREM ® , one of the standard commercial SP-MRI contrast agent. We found that the spherical NCs exhibit R 1 and R 2 relaxivities slightly lower than those of ENDOREM ® , over the whole frequency range; on the contrary, tetrapods show relaxivities about one order of magnitude lower. The physical origin of such difference in relaxivities between tetrapod- and spheres-based nanostructures is under investigation and it is possibly related to different sources of the magnetic anisotropy.
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