Nano Research

Article Title

Hollow mesoporous Ia3d silica nanospheres with singleunit-cell-thick shell: Spontaneous formation and drug delivery application


hollow mesoporous silica nanospheres, cubic Ia3d mesostructure, drug delivery, silica degradation


Mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs) are promising for drug delivery and other biomedical applications owing to their excellent chemical stability and biocompatibility. For these applications, a hollow morphology with thin shell and open mesopores is preferred for MSNs in order to maximize the loading capacity of drugs. Herein we report a novel and direct synthesis of such an ideal drug delivery system in a dilute and alkaline solution of benzylcetyl- dimethylammonium chloride and diethylene glycol hexadecyl ether. The mixed surfactants can guide the formation of MSNs with cubic Ia3d mesostructure, and at a concentration of sodium hydroxide between 9.8 and 13.5 mM, hollow MSNs with uniform sizes of 90–120 nm and a single-unit-cell-thick shell are formed. A mechanism for the formation of the hollow Ia3d MSNs, designated as MMT-2, is proposed based on in situ small-angle X-ray scattering measurements and other analyses. MMT-2 exhibits much higher loading capacity of ibuprofen and degrades faster in simulated body fluid and phosphate buffered saline than non-hollow MSNs. The degradation of MMT-2 can be significantly retarded by modification with polyethylene glycol. More interestingly, the degradation of MMT-2 involves fragmentation instead of void formation, a phenomenon beneficial for their elimination. The results demonstrate the uniqueness of the hollow Ia3d MSNs and the great potential of the material for drug delivery and biomedical applications.

Graphical Abstract


Tsinghua University Press