Nanomechanical Microfluidic Mixing and Rapid Labeling of Silica Nanoparticles using Allenamide-Thiol Covalent Linkage for Bioimaging

Rapid surface functionalization of nanomaterials using covalent linkage following “green chemistry” remains challenging, and the quest for developing simple protocols is persisting. We report a nanomechanical microfluidic approach for the coupling of allenamide functionalized organic derivatives on the surface of thiol-modified silica nanoparticles using allenamide-thiol chemistry. The coupling principle involves the use of a microfluidic surface acoustic wave device that generates acoustic streaming-based chaotic fluid micromixing that enables mixing of laterally flowing fluids containing active components. This approach was used to demonstrate the direct surface labeling of thiol-modified silica nanoparticles using a selected group of modified fluorescent tags containing allenamide handles and achieved a total labeling efficiency of 83–90%. This green approach enabled a highly efficient surface functionalization under aqueous conditions, with tunable control over the conjugation process via the applied field. The dye-labeled silica particles were characterized using various analytical techniques and found to be biocompatible with potential in live cell bioimaging. It is envisaged that this bioconjugation strategy will find numerous applications in the field of bioimaging and drug delivery.