Characterization of aqueous dispersions of Fe(3)O(4) nanoparticles and their biomedical applications

Biomaterials. 2005 Mar;26(7):729-38. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2004.03.016.


A newly developed non-polymer coated Fe(3)O(4) nanoparticles showing well-dispersion were synthesized using Fe(II) and Fe(III) salt chemical coprecipitation with tetramethylammonium hydroxide (N(CH(3))(4)OH) in an aqueous solution. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD), Fourier transform infrared spectrometer (FT-IR), X-ray photoelectron spectrometer (XPS) and superconducting quantum interference measurement device (SQUID) measurements were employed to investigate the iron oxide properties. The resulting iron oxide particles were manipulated to be as small as 9 nm diameter in size. Based on FT-IR and X-ray photoelectron spectrometer results, it is suggested that the surfaces of the magnetite (Fe(3)O(4)) particles are covered with hydroxide (-OH) groups incorporated with (CH(3))(4)N(+) through electrostatic interaction. The in vitro cytotoxicity test revealed that the magnetite particles exhibited excellent biocompatibility, suggesting that they may be further explored for biomedical applications. NMR measurements revealed significantly reduced water proton relaxation times T1 and T2. The MR images of the nanoparticles in water, serum, and whole blood were investigated using a 1.5 T clinical MR imager. Significant reduction of the background medium signal was achieved in the T2-weighted and the T2*-weighted sequence especially in the serum and whole blood. Combining the advantage of MRI signal contrast, the non-polymer-coated surface chemistry for distinct bioconjugation and the homogenous nanometer size for better controlled biodistribution, these preliminary experiments demonstrated the potential of the as-synthesized magnetite material in functional molecular imaging for biomedical research and clinical diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials / chemistry*
  • Biomedical Engineering / methods
  • COS Cells
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Colloids / chemistry
  • Ferric Compounds / chemistry*
  • Ferric Compounds / toxicity
  • Hemolysis / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Materials Testing*
  • Nanotubes / chemistry*
  • Nanotubes / toxicity
  • Nanotubes / ultrastructure*
  • Particle Size
  • Water / chemistry*


  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Colloids
  • Ferric Compounds
  • Water
  • ferric oxide