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Colloidally Assembled Zinc Ferrite Magnetic Beads: Superparamagnetic Labels with High Magnetic Moments for MR Sensors

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journal contribution
posted on 16.05.2017 by Jooneon Park, Marc D. Porter, Michael C. Granger
Magnetic particles are widely used as labels in magnetoresistive sensors. To use magnetic particles as labels, several important characteristics should be considered, such as superparamagnetism, a high magnetic moment per particle (m), facile surface functionalization and biomolecule immobilization, colloidal stability, and analyte specificity. In this paper, we describe the preparation of magnetic labels with a high m, using colloidal assemblies of superparamagnetic zinc ferrite nanoparticles (ZFNPs, ∼9 nm). Also, several properties of these particles are compared with those of commercially available magnetic beads, Dynabeads and TurboBeads. The colloidally assembled zinc ferrite magnetic beads (ZFMBs, ∼160 nm) were synthesized by assembling ZFNPs via an emulsion-based assembly approach. While retaining superparamagnetism at room temperature, the m of ZFMBs is ∼4000× higher than that of the constituent ZFNPs. Surface functionalization with a layer of polyacrylic acid stabilized the ZFMBs in aqueous solution and enabled conjugation with streptavidin via carbodiimide linking chemistry. The streptavidinated ZFMBs can be suspended in aqueous buffer for ≥24 h, whereas 1.05 μm Dynabeads and 30 nm TurboBeads undergo ballistic deposition and instantaneous aggregation in solution, respectively. Finally, the streptavidinated ZFMBs were employed as labels in an immunoassay for the detection of osteopontin, a potential pancreatic cancer marker, proving superior to the commercial particles in terms of limit of detection and dynamic range. We expect that the work presented in this article can be extended to other biological applications, especially where superparamagnetic particles with a high m and colloidal stability are needed.