Core-shell nanoparticles: Characterization and study of their use for the encapsulation of hydrophobic fluorescent dyes

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Core-shell nanocapsules intended to be used as drug scavengers were prepared using a surfactant mixture containing octadecyltrimethoxysilane (OTMS) as a reactive amphiphile, to form spherical templates. A siloxane shell was grown on the surface of the templates by reacting tetramethoxysilane (TMOS) with the silanol groups obtained after the hydrolysis and condensation of OTMS. Dynamic light scattering (DLS) showed that particles with diameters in the range of 100-200 nm were obtained, with core and shell sizes controlled by varying component compositions. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) was used to study the effect of the silica coating of the templates on their robustness after deposition on a substrate. Subsequently, we present studies on the encapsulation of two hydrophobic fluorescent dyes, which are sensors of polarity and rigidity. Steady-state fluorescence spectroscopy was used to examine the fluorescence response of the dyes before and after shell growth. Changes in the emission of the encapsulated dyes were related to changes in the polarity and rigidity of the microenvironment where the dyes were located and correlated to the AFM results. Finally, dye-free core-shell particles were used to sequester the dyes from aqueous suspensions. Fluorescence of the sequestered species was compared to the dye-loaded particles to determine the final fate of the fluorophores in the nanoparticles. © 2008 American Chemical Society.

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