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Polystyrene Core–Silica Shell Particles with Defined Nanoarchitectures as a Versatile Platform for Suspension Array Technology

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journal contribution
posted on 05.04.2016, 21:29 by Dominik Sarma, Kornelia Gawlitza, Knut Rurack
The need for rapid and high-throughput screening in analytical laboratories has led to significant growth in interest in suspension array technologies (SATs), especially with regard to cytometric assays targeting a low to medium number of analytes. Such SAT or bead-based assays rely on spherical objects that constitute the analytical platform. Usually, functionalized polymer or silica (SiO2) microbeads are used which each have distinct advantages and drawbacks. In this paper, we present a straightforward synthetic route to highly monodisperse SiO2-coated polystyrene core–shell (CS) beads for SAT with controllable architectures from smooth to raspberry- and multilayer-like shells by varying the molecular weight of poly­(vinylpyrrolidone) (PVP), which was used as the stabilizer of the cores. The combination of both organic polymer core and a structurally controlled inorganic SiO2 shell in one hybrid particle holds great promises for flexible next-generation design of the spherical platform. The particles were characterized by electron microscopy (SEM, T-SEM, and TEM), thermogravimetry, flow cytometry, and nitrogen adsorption/desorption, offering comprehensive information on the composition, size, structure, and surface area. All particles show ideal cytometric detection patterns and facile handling due to the hybrid structure. The beads are endowed with straightforward modification possibilities through the defined SiO2 shells. We successfully implemented the particles in fluorometric SAT model assays, illustrating the benefits of tailored surface area which is readily available for small-molecule anchoring. Very promising assay performance was shown for DNA hybridization assays with quantification limits down to 8 fmol.