Upscale Synthesis of Magnetic Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticles and Application to Metal Ion Separation: Nanosafety Evaluation

Nanomaterials (Basel). 2023 Dec 16;13(24):3155. doi: 10.3390/nano13243155.


The synthesis of core-shell magnetic mesoporous nanoparticles (MMSNs) through a phase transfer process is usually performed at the 100-250 mg scale. At the gram scale, nanoparticles without cores or with multicore systems are observed. Iron oxide core nanoparticles (IO) were synthesized through a thermal decomposition procedure of α-FeO(OH) in oleic acid. A phase transfer from chloroform to water was then performed in order to wrap the IO nanoparticles with a mesoporous silica shell through the sol-gel procedure. MMSNs were then functionalized with DTPA (diethylenetriaminepentacetic acid) and used for the separation of metal ions. Their toxicity was evaluated. The phase transfer procedure was crucial to obtaining MMSNs on a large scale. Three synthesis parameters were rigorously controlled: temperature, time and glassware. The homogeneous dispersion of MMSNs on the gram scale was successfully obtained. After functionalization with DTPA, the MMSN-DTPAs were shown to have a strong affinity for Ni ions. Furthermore, toxicity was evaluated in cells, zebrafish and seahorse cell metabolic assays, and the nanoparticles were found to be nontoxic. We developed a method of preparing MMSNs at the gram scale. After functionalization with DTPA, the nanoparticles were efficient in metal ion removal and separation; furthermore, no toxicity was noticed up to 125 µg mL-1 in zebrafish.

Keywords: DTPA; magnetic mesoporous nanoparticles; metal ion separation; toxicity; upscaled synthesis.

Grants and funding

This research was funded by the ERA-MIN 2 MetRecycle project, supported in Sweden by the Vinnova grant No. 2018-00739 (2018–2021) and in France by Adème (2018–2021).