Characterization of hollow silica–polyelectrolyte composite nanoparticles by small-angle X-ray scattering
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Hollow silica–polyelectrolyte composite nanoparticles were prepared using templates of spherical polyelectrolyte brushes which consist of a polystyrene (PS) core and a densely grafted linear poly(acrylic acid) shell. The obtained hollow particles were systematically studied by small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) in combination with other characterization methods such as transmission electron microscopy and dynamic light scattering. The hollow structure formed by dissolving the PS core was confirmed by the reduction of electron density to zero in the cavity through fitting SAXS data. SAXS revealed both the inward and outward expansions of the hollow silica–polyelectrolyte composite particles upon increasing pH from 3 to 9, while further increasing pH led to the partial dissolution of silica layer and even destruction of the hollow structure. SAXS was confirmed to be a unique and powerful characterization method to observe hollow silica nanoparticles, which should be ideal candidates for controlled drug delivery.
We gratefully thank the financial support from the NSFC Grants (51273063 and 21476143), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, 111 Project Grant (B08021), Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the China Scholarship Council.
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Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest to declare.
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