Magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (MIONs) have established a niche as a nanomedicine platform for diagnosis and therapy, but they present a challenging surface for ligand functionalization which limits their applications. On the other hand, coating MIONs with another material such as gold to enhance these attachments introduces other complications. Incomplete coating may expose portions of the iron oxide core, or the coating process may alter their magnetic properties. We describe synthesis and characterization of iron oxide/silica/gold core-shell nanoparticles to elucidate the effects of a silica-gold coating process and its impact on the resulting performance. In particular, small angle neutron scattering reveals silica intercalates between iron oxide crystallites that form the dense core, likely preserving the magnetic properties while enabling formation of a continuous gold shell. The synthesized silica-gold-coated MIONs demonstrate magnetic heating properties consistent with the original iron oxide core, with added x-ray contrast for imaging and laser heating.
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