Di- and tri-component spinel ferrite nanocubes: synthesis and their comparative characterization for theranostic applications†
Spinel ferrite nanocubes (NCs), consisting of pure iron oxide or mixed ferrites, are largely acknowledged for their outstanding performance in magnetic hyperthermia treatment (MHT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) applications while their magnetic particle imaging (MPI) properties, particularly for this peculiar shape different from the conventional spherical nanoparticles (NPs), are relatively less investigated. In this work, we report on a non-hydrolytic synthesis approach to prepare mixed transition metal ferrite NCs. A series of NCs of mixed zinc-cobalt-ferrite were prepared and their magnetic theranostic properties were compared to those of cobalt ferrite or zinc ferrite NCs of similar sizes. For each of the nanomaterials, the synthesis parameters were adjusted to obtain NCs in the size range from 8 up to 15 nm. The chemical and structural nature of the different NCs was correlated to their magnetic properties. In particular, to evaluate magnetic losses, we compared the data obtained from calorimetric measurements to the data measured by dynamic magnetic hysteresis obtained under alternating magnetic field (AMF) excitation. Cobalt-ferrite and zinc-cobalt ferrite NCs showed high specific adsorption rate (SAR) values in aqueous solutions but their heating ability was drastically suppressed once in viscous media even for NCs as small as 12 nm. On the other hand, non-stoichiometric zinc-ferrite NCs showed significant but lower SAR values than the other ferrites, but these zinc-ferrite NCs preserved almost unaltered their heating trend in viscous environments. Also, the presence of zinc in the crystal lattice of zinc–cobalt ferrite NCs showed increased contrast enhancement for MRI with the highest T2 relaxation time and in the MPI signal with the best point spread function and signal-to-noise ratio in comparison to the analogue cobalt-ferrite NC. Among the different compositions investigated, non-stoichiometric zinc-ferrite NCs can be considered the most promising material as a multifunctional theranostic platform for MHT, MPI and MRI regardless of the media viscosity in which they will be applied, while ensuring the best biocompatibility with respect to the cobalt ferrite NCs.
- This article is part of the themed collections: Advanced Functional Nanomaterials for Biomedical Applications and Recent Open Access Articles