Water-Stable, Magnetic Silica–Cobalt/Cobalt Oxide–Silica Multishell Submicrometer Spheres


  • The authors acknowledge financial support from the European Community (Contract No. HPRN-CT-1999-00150). The authors are indebted to Horst Zähres and Zhara Shojaaee for their assistance with TEM and SEM.


A method to produce monodisperse magnetic composite spheres with diameters from less than 100 nm to more than 1 μm in water solution is reported. The spheres consist of a dielectric silica core and a cobalt/cobalt oxide shell which can be protected from further oxidation with an outer shell of silica or, alternatively, they can be covered with the polymer polyvinylpyrrolidone as a stabilizer. The formation of a uniform magnetic shell proceeds with the adsorption of metallic cobalt seeds, produced by the reduction of cobalt chloride with sodium borohydride, on a self-assembled layer of polyelectrolytes on the silica core. In the second step, an outer silica shell can be formed by the hydrolysis and condensation of (3-aminopropyl)trimethoxysilane and tetraethoxysilane. The double-shell composite spheres show excellent sphericity, monodispersity, and a magnetic hysteresis loop at room temperature.