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Improving lanthanide nanocrystal colloidal stability in competitive aqueous buffer solutions using multivalent PEG-phosphonate ligands

Cao, P., Tong, L., Hou, Y. et al.

The range of properties available in the lanthanide series has inspired research into the use of lanthanide nanoparticles for numerous applications. We aim to use NaLnF(4) nanoparticles for isotopic tags in mass cytometry. This application requires nanoparticles of narrow size distribution, diameters preferably less than 15 nm, and robust surface chemistry to avoid nonspecific interactions and to facilitate bioconjugation. Nanoparticles (NaHoF(4), NaEuF(4), NaGdF(4), and NaTbF(4)) were synthesized with diameters from 9 to 11 nm with oleic acid surface stabilization. The surface ligands were replaced by a series of mono-, di-, and tetraphosphonate PEG ligands, whose synthesis is reported here. The colloidal stability of the resulting particles was monitored over a range of pH values and in phosphate containing solutions. All of the PEG-phosphonate ligands were found to produce non-aggregated colloidally stable suspensions of the nanoparticles in water as judged by DLS and TEM measurements. However, in more aggressive solutions, at high pH and in phosphate buffers, the mono- and diphosphonate PEG ligands did not stabilize the particles and aggregation as well as flocculation was observed. However, the tetraphosphonate ligand was able to stabilize the particles at high pH and in phosphate buffers for extended periods of time.

Citation

Cao, P., Tong, L., Hou, Y. et al. "Improving lanthanide nanocrystal colloidal stability in competitive aqueous buffer solutions using multivalent PEG-phosphonate ligands" Langmuir (2012): 12,861–70