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Robust and Biocompatible Functionalization of ZnS Nanoparticles by Catechol-Bearing Poly(2-methyl-2-oxazoline)s

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journal contribution
posted on 31.08.2018 by Angela Federica De Fazio, Giulia Morgese, Maddalena Mognato, Celeste Piotto, Danilo Pedron, Gloria Ischia, Valerio Causin, Jan-Georg Rosenboom, Edmondo M. Benetti, Silvia Gross
Zinc sulfide (ZnS) nanoparticles (NPs) are particularly interesting materials for their electronic and luminescent properties. Unfortunately, their robust and stable functionalization and stabilization, especially in aqueous media, has represented a challenging and not yet completely accomplished task. In this work, we report the synthesis of colloidally stable, photoluminescent and biocompatible core–polymer shell ZnS and ZnS:Tb NPs by employing a water-in-oil miniemulsion (ME) process combined with surface functionalization via catechol-bearing poly-2-methyl-2-oxazoline (PMOXA) of various molar masses. The strong binding of catechol anchors to the metal cations of the ZnS surface, coupled with the high stability of PMOXA against chemical degradation, enable the formation of suspensions presenting excellent colloidal stability. This feature, combined with the assessed photoluminescence and biocompatibility, make these hybrid NPs suitable for optical bioimaging.