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Ultra-Small Fatty Acid-stabilized Magnetite Nanocolloids Synthesized By In Situ Hydrolytic Precipitation

Kheireddine El-Boubbou, Rabih O Al-Kaysi, M. K. Al-Muhanna, Hassan M. Bahhari, A. Al-Romaeh, N. Darwish, K. Alsaad, S. Alsuwaidan
Published 2015 · Materials Science

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Simple, fast, large-scale, and cost-effective preparation of uniform controlled magnetic nanoparticles remains a major hurdle on the way towards magnetically targeted applications at realistic technical conditions. Herein, we present a unique one-pot approach that relies on simple basic hydrolytic in situ coprecipitation of inexpensive metal salts (Fe2+ and Fe3+) compartmentalized by stabilizing fatty acids and aided by the presence of alkylamines. The synthesis was performed at relatively low temperatures (∼80°C) without the use of high-boiling point solvents and elevated temperatures. This method allowed for the production of ultra-small, colloidal, and hydrophobically stabilized magnetite metal oxide nanoparticles readily dispersed in organic solvents. The results reveal that the obtained magnetite nanoparticles exhibit narrow size distributions, good monodispersities, high saturation magnetizations, and excellent colloidal stabilities. When the [fatty acid] : [Fe] ratio was varied, control over nanoparticle diameters within the range of 2-10 nm was achieved. The amount of fatty acid and alkylamine used during the reaction proved critical in governing morphology, dispersity, uniformity, and colloidal stability. Upon exchange with water-soluble polymers, the ultra-small sized particles become biologically relevant, with great promise for theranostic applications as imaging and magnetically targeted delivery vehicles.
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