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Processing-size correlations in the preparation of magnetic alginate microspheres through emulsification and ionic crosslinking

Garcia, Andrew R., Lacko, Christopher, Snyder, Catherine, Bohórquez, Ana C., Schmidt, Christine E., Rinaldi, Carlos
Colloids and surfaces 2017 v.529 pp. 119-127
alginates, calcium, crosslinking, drugs, emulsifying, gelation, ions, iron oxides, magnetic fields, models, nanoparticles
Magnetic alginate microspheres are biocompatible due to their alginate matrix, and motion-controllable by applied magnetic fields due to their magnetic character. Therefore, they have the potential of being used as vessels to a broad variety of materials, including drugs and therapeutic agents, facilitating entry to biological systems in a relatively non-invasive manner. Here, magnetic alginate microspheres were prepared through an emulsification and ionic cross-linking process, where a mixture of alginate and iron oxide magnetic nanoparticles was initially dispersed in a continuous phase, followed by gelation of this dispersed phase into microspheres by cross-linking the dispersion with calcium ions. The resulting magnetic alginate microspheres were found to be superparamagnetic and to respond to applied magnetic fields by chain formation. The effect of shear rate, alginate concentration, and magnetic nanoparticle concentration on microsphere size was investigated with the aim to control the size of microspheres with respect to process and formulation parameters. Two of these parameters, shear rate and alginate concentration, were used to correlate experimental results with a theoretical model for the case where the dispersed phase is more viscous than the continuous phase.