Silica supported ceria nanoparticles: a hybrid nanostructure to increase stability and surface reactivity of nano-crystalline ceria†
The mixed oxidation state (3+/4+) of ceria nanoparticles of smaller sizes make them attractive materials for their catalytic antioxidant biological properties. However the unmodified smaller ceria nanoparticles are limited in their use due to particles agglomeration and reduced surface chemical reactivity in the solutions used to disperse the nanoparticles. This work describes an effort to stabilize small ceria nanoparticles, retaining their desired activity, on a larger stable silica support. The ceria nanoparticles attached to silica was synthesized by a solution synthesis technique in which the surface functional groups of silica nanoparticles were found to be essential for the formation of smaller ceria nanoparticles. The surface chemical and vibrational spectroscopy analysis revealed cerium–silicate (Ce–O–Si) covalent bond linkage between silica and cerium oxide nanoparticles. The colloidal properties (agglomerate particle size and suspension stability) of ceria attached to silica was significantly improved due to inherent physico–chemical characteristics of silica against random collision and gravitation settling as opposed to unmodified ceria nanoparticles in solution. The bio-catalytic activity of ceria nanoparticles in the 3+ oxidation state was not found to be limited by attachment to the silica support as measured by free radical scavenging activity in different biological media conditions.