Nanodisco balls: Control over surface versus core loading of diagnostically active nanocrystals into polymer nanoparticles

Peter Chhour, Nicolas Gallo, Rabee Cheheltani, Dewight Williams, Ajlan Al-Zaki, Taejong Paik, Jessica L. Nichol, Zhicheng Tian, Pratap C. Naha, Walter R. Witschey, Harry R. Allcock, Christopher B. Murray, Andrew Tsourkas, David P. Cormode

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Nanoparticles of complex architectures can have unique properties. Self-assembly of spherical nanocrystals is a high yielding route to such systems. In this study, we report the self-assembly of a polymer and nanocrystals into aggregates, where the location of the nanocrystals can be controlled to be either at the surface or in the core. These nanospheres, when surface decorated with nanocrystals, resemble disco balls, thus the term nanodisco balls. We studied the mechanism of this surface loading phenomenon and found it to be Ca2+ dependent. We also investigated whether excess phospholipids could prevent nanocrystal adherence. We found surface loading to occur with a variety of nanocrystal types including iron oxide nanoparticles, quantum dots, and nanophosphors, as well as sizes (10-30 nm) and shapes. Additionally, surface loading occurred over a range of polymer molecular weights (∼30-3000 kDa) and phospholipid carbon tail length. We also show that nanocrystals remain diagnostically active after loading onto the polymer nanospheres, i.e., providing contrast in the case of magnetic resonance imaging for iron oxide nanoparticles and fluorescence for quantum dots. Last, we demonstrated that a fluorescently labeled protein model drug can be delivered by surface loaded nanospheres. We present a platform for contrast media delivery, with the unusual feature that the payload can be controllably localized to the core or the surface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9143-9153
Number of pages11
JournalACS nano
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 23 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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