Magnetic Nanoparticles to Unique DNA Tracers: Effect of Functionalization on Physico-chemical Properties

Anuvansh Sharma, Jan Willem Foppen, Abhishek Banerjee, Slimani Sawssen, Nirmalya Bachhar, Davide Peddis, Sulalit Bandyopadhyay

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Abstract: To monitor and manage hydrological systems such as brooks, streams, rivers, the use of tracers is a well-established process. Limited number of potential tracers such as salts, isotopes and dyes, make study of hydrological processes a challenge. Traditional tracers find limited use due to lack of multiplexed, multipoint tracing and background noise, among others. In this regard, DNA based tracers possess remarkable advantages including, environmentally friendly, stability, and high sensitivity in addition to showing great potential in the synthesis of ideally unlimited number of unique tracers capable of multipoint tracing. To prevent unintentional losses in the environment during application and easy recovery for analysis, we hereby report DNA encapsulation in silica containing magnetic cores (iron oxide) of two different shapes—spheres and cubes. The iron oxide nanoparticles having size range 10–20 nm, have been synthesized using co-precipitation of iron salts or thermal decomposition of iron oleate precursor in the presence of oleic acid or sodium oleate. Physico-chemical properties such as size, zeta potential, magnetism etc. of the iron oxide nanoparticles have been optimized using different ligands for effective binding of dsDNA, followed by silanization. We report for the first time the effect of surface coating on the magnetic properties of the iron oxide nanoparticles at each stage of functionalization, culminating in silica shells. Efficiency of encapsulation of three different dsDNA molecules has been studied using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). Our results show that our DNA based magnetic tracers are excellent candidates for hydrological monitoring with easy recoverability and high signal amplification. Graphic Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Article number24
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalNanoscale Research Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • DNA encapsulation
  • Hydrological tracers
  • Magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles
  • Phase transfer
  • Silica nanoparticles
  • OA-Fund TU Delft

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