Matrix assisted formation of ferrihydrite nanoparticles in a siloxane/poly(oxyethylene) nanohybrid
Journal article, 2005
Matrix-assisted formation of ferrihydrite, an iron oxide hydroxide analogue of the protein ferritin core, in a sol-gel derived organic-inorganic hybrid is reported. The hybrid network (named diureasil) is composed of poly(oxyethylene) chains of different average polymer molecular weights grafted to siloxane domains by means of urea cross-linkages and accommodates ferrihydrite nanoparticles. Magnetic measurements, Fourier transform infrared and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy reveal that controlled modification of the polymer molecular weight allows the fine-tuning of the ability of the hybrid matrix to assist and promote iron coordination at the organic-inorganic interface and subsequent nucleation and growth of the ferrihydrite nanoparticles whose core size (2-4 nm) is tuned by the amount of iron incorporated. The polymer chain length, its arrangement and crystallinity, are key factors in the anchoring and formation of the ferrihydrite particles.