Date of Award

Summer 8-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Charles O'Connor

Second Advisor

Matthew Tarr

Third Advisor

John Wiley

Fourth Advisor

Weilie Zhou

Fifth Advisor

Pierre Ferdinand P. Poudeu


Iron oxide magnetic nanoparticle synthesis and their surface functionalization hold a crucial position in the design and fabrication of functional materials for a variety of biomedical applications. Non-uniform nanoparticles with poor crystallinity, prepared by conventional methods, have only limited value in biological areas. Large scale synthesis methods that are able to produce high quality, mono-dispersed iron oxide nanoparticles using low cost and environment friendly chemicals are highly desirable. Following synthesis, appropriate surface functionalization is necessary to direct the dispersibility of nanoparticles in aqueous solution in order to provide them with acceptable colloidal stability against the ion strength and many biomolecules that nanoparticles may encounter under physiological conditions. Poorly stabilized nanoparticles that easily aggregate and form large size agglomerates would be quickly cleared by the liver and other organs and are not suitable for clinical purposes. Additionally, many interesting functionalities such as fluorescence, targeting and anti-cancer properties can be immobilized onto the surface of iron oxide magnetic nanoparticles during the surface functionalization process so as to build multifunctional platforms for disease diagnosis and treatment.

Polyol method can be an effective way to prepare magnetite nanoparticles that are suitable for biological applications. In a polyol system, selected surface functionalities were introduced to the nanoparticle surface via a hot injection technique. The morphology, uniformity, crystallinity and magnetic properties were examined to understand the effect of different ligand molecules on the final product. Their surface chemistry, colloidal properties and surface reactivity were also studied to evaluate their practicability in different applications.

A high efficiency in-situ method for the preparation of magnetite nanoparticles attached to silica nanospheres was also developed in a polyol system. This approach eliminates several time-consuming processing steps that are in the conventional fabrication route and directly produces water-stable magnetite-silica hybrid materials with surface availability for subsequent modifications.

In addition to polyalcohol, the potential of polyamine in the preparation of water-soluble magnetite nanoparticles with amine surface functionalities was also evaluated. And it is suggested that polyamine acts as solvent, stabilizing agent and reducing agent simultaneously during the synthesis. The characterization of polyamine coated nanoparticles, their surface functionalization, and subsequent application for bioseparation and drug delivery were reported.


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