The preparation of our theranostic Trojananoorses starts with the chemical synthesis of nanoparticles. We opt for the wet-chemical approach, using sol-gel synthesis to produce metal oxide nanoparticles.
We mainly prepare zinc oxide (ZnO) nanocrystals with round shape and smooth edges with 20-50 nm in diameter. ZnO show good piezoelectric and semiconductor properites. We particularly strived to control and obtain repeatability on the morphological and structural properties, size distribution, and surface chemistry of the nanocrystals as well as having a good yield and easy synthetic approach [1,2]. Actually, a proper biocompatibility and low cellular toxicity with outstanding colloidal stability in ethanol and water media were achieved [3,4], in particular after chemical post-synthesis functionalization.
With the aim to expand the properties of such ZnO nanocrystals towards magnetic responsiveness and further improved piezoelectric properties, we have also started the synthesis of doped ZnO nanocrystals, introducing elements such as Manganese (Mn), Gadolinium (Gd) and Iron (Fe) in the crystalline structure of the wirtzitic ZnO [5-7]. We manage to obtain highly crysalline ZnO with tunable content of the dioping elements increasing the magnetic adn piezoelectric properties, and in the carse of iron-doped ZnO nanocrystalss also enhancing the biocompatibility towards living cells .