Dextran-coated superparamagnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) have widespread biomedical applications. The superparamagnetic behavior, specifically regulated size, and smooth morphology are crucial requirements for essentially all of these applications. Presented herein is an innovative double-coating strategy that would allow for a size-controlled synthesis of MNPs. Small monocrystalline iron oxide nanoparticles (MIONs) were first synthesized, which served as the source of superparamagnetic properties. These MIONs were then treated in an acetate buffer containing biocompatible dextran polymer. Under such an environment, the colloidal MIONs would be quickly agglomerated by the acetate ions, and the formed coalescent body of MION would then be stabilized simultaneously by coating with dextran. By regulating the MION or dextran concentration as well as the thermal incubation time, the sizes of these first formed nanoparticles (termed 1st-NPs) could be readily controlled. A second dextran coating step was further applied to smoothen the 1st-NPs in attaining a final product (termed 2nd-NPs). The 2nd-NPs exhibited robust storage stability because of the additional coating shell. Results successfully confirmed the plausibility of this approach, as these MNPs displayed not only a smooth outline and a narrow size distribution but also the essential superparamagnetic behavior and a significantly prolonged stability on storage. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res, 201
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