Oleate coating of iron oxide nanoparticles in aqueous systems: the role of temperature and surfactant concentration

Hans Christian Roth, Sebastian Schwaminger, Paula Fraga García, Jonathan Ritscher, Sonja Berensmeier

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24 Scopus citations


Abstract: Coating magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) with sodium oleate (SO) is known to be an excellent method to create biocompatible, stable colloids with a narrow size distribution. However, the mechanism of oleate adsorption on the MNP surface in aqueous systems, as well as its influence on colloidal stability, is not yet fully understood. In this context, we present here a physico-chemical study to provide a deeper understanding of surfactant interaction mechanisms with nanoparticles. We examined the effect of temperature and the SO/MNP ratio (w/w) on the adsorption process in water and observed the existence of a maximum for the adsorbed oleate amount at lower temperatures, whereas at higher temperatures, the isotherm can be adapted to the Langmuir model with constant capacity after saturation. The oleate load on the MNP surface was quantified using reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography measurements of samples in solution. The thermogravimetric analyses of the solid residues together with infrared spectroscopy analyses indicate a bilayer-similar structure at the MNP/water interface even for low oleate loads. The oleate interacts with the iron oxide surface through a bidentate coordination of the carboxyl group. Zeta potential measurements demonstrate the high stability of the coated system. The maximal oleate load per unit mass of MNPs reaches approximately 0.35 goleate gMNP −1. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Article number99
JournalJournal of Nanoparticle Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2016


  • Adsorption isotherms
  • Colloidal stability
  • Iron oxide
  • Magnetic nanoparticles
  • Oleate


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