2016 Volume 65 Issue 5 Pages 369-376
Three approaches to preparing iron oxide nanoparticle-decorated microbubbles (NP-decoMBs) have been investigated. The size and stability characteristics of these microbubbles (MBs) were investigated by optical microscopy, laser light scattering and an acoustical method, and compared with those of non-decorated MBs. First, magnetite nanoparticles (Fe3O4NPs) grafted with dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine (DMPC) were synthesized and used to prepare MBs by brief sonication under an atmosphere of air saturated with perfluorohexane. These MBs had a rather large mean radius (r ~ 12 µm), and a moderate volume of encapsulated gas. Remarkably, a second approach that consisted of dispersing unbound DMPC molecules in the aqueous phase along with DMPC-grafted Fe3O4NPs prior to sonication was found to drastically change the situation, allowing the obtaining of monomodal populations of much smaller (r ~ 0.6 µm) NP-decoMBs. The latter were echogenic and stable for at least 10 days at room temperature, without significant variation of their size characteristics. In a third approach, NP-decoMBs were directly prepared from dispersions of naked Fe3O4NPs in the presence of DMPC. The resulting NP-decoMBs suspensions consisted of broadly distributed bubble populations mostly containing two populations (with r ~ 5 and ~ 15 µm). Control microbubbles made of DMPC only were small (r ~ 1.3 µm), although not as small as those formed from DMPC-grafted Fe3O4NPs in the presence of free DMPC, and were less stable, with a room temperature half-life of only ~1 day. These observations imply that there is a synergy between the Fe3O4NPs and the DMPC molecules in the air/water interfacial film stabilization process.