Magnetically-responsive silica–gold nanobowls for targeted delivery and SERS-based sensing†
Composite colloidal structures with multi-functional properties have wide applications in targeted delivery of therapeutics and imaging contrast molecules and high-throughput molecular bio-sensing. We have constructed a multifunctional composite magnetic nanobowl using the bottom-up approach on an asymmetric silica/polystyrene Janus template consisting of a silica shell around a partially exposed polystyrene core. The nanobowl consists of a silica bowl and a gold exterior shell with iron oxide magnetic nanoparticles sandwiched between the silica and gold shells. The nanobowls were characterized by electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, magnetometry, vis-NIR and FTIR spectroscopy. Magnetically vectored transport of these nanobowls was ascertained by time-lapsed imaging of their flow in fluid through a porous hydrogel under a defined magnetic field. These magnetically-responsive nanobowls show distinct surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) imaging capability. The PEGylated magnetically-responsive nanobowls show size-dependent cellular uptake in vitro.