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Manipulating cluster size of polyanion-stabilized Fe3O4 magnetic nanoparticle clusters via electrostatic-mediated assembly for tunable magnetophoresis behavior

Abstract

We report in this article an approach for manipulating the size of magnetic nanoparticle clusters (MNCs) via electrostatic-mediated assembly technique using an electrolyte as a clustering agent. The clusters were surface-tethered with poly(sodium 4-styrenesulfonate) (PSS) through electrostatic compensation to enhance their colloidal stability. Dynamic light scattering was employed to trace the evolution of cluster size. Simultaneously, electrophoretic mobility and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy analyses were conducted to investigate the possible schemes involved in both cluster formation and PSS grafting. Results showed that the average hydrodynamic cluster size of the PSS/MNCs and their corresponding size distributions were successfully shifted by means of manipulating the suspension pH, the ionic nature of the electrolyte, and the electrolyte concentration. More specifically, the electrokinetic behavior of the particles upon interaction with the electrolyte plays a profound role in the formation of the PSS/MNCs. Nonetheless, the solubility of the polymer in electrolyte solution and the purification of the particles from residual ions should not be omitted in determining the effectiveness of this clustering approach. The PSS adlayer makes the resultant entities highly water-dispersible and provides electrosteric stabilization to shield the PSS/MNCs from aggregation. In this study, the experimental observations were analyzed and discussed on the basis of existing fundamental colloidal theories. The strategy of cluster size manipulation proposed here is simple and convenient to implement. Furthermore, manipulating the size of the MNCs also facilitates the tuning of magnetophoresis kinetics on exposure to low magnetic field gradient, which makes this nano-entity useful for engineering applications, specifically in separation processes.

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Acknowledgments

This material is based on the work supported by the Research University Grant (RUI) (Grant no. 1001/PJKIMIA/811219), the FRGS Grant (grant no. 203/PJKIMIA/6013412), and the Postgraduate Research Grant Scheme (RU-PRGS) (Grant no. 1001/PJKIMIA/8045039) from the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). In addition, authors wish to thank Dr. Low Siew Chun for her advices in DLS data interpretation. All the authors are affiliated to the Membrane Science and Technology Cluster of USM.

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Correspondence to Swee Pin Yeap or JitKang Lim.

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Yeap, S.P., Ahmad, A.L., Ooi, B.S. et al. Manipulating cluster size of polyanion-stabilized Fe3O4 magnetic nanoparticle clusters via electrostatic-mediated assembly for tunable magnetophoresis behavior. J Nanopart Res 17, 403 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11051-015-3207-y

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Keywords

  • Magnetic nanoparticle clusters
  • Size manipulation
  • Electrostatic interaction
  • Colloidal stability
  • Tunable magnetophoresis