Effect of atom transfer radical polymerization reaction time on PCB binding capacities of Styrene-CMA/QMA Core-Shell iron oxide nanoparticles

Angela M. Gutierrez, Francisco C. Leniz, Xinya Wang, Thomas D. Dziubla, J. Zach Hilt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Water pollution continues to be one of the greatest challenges humankind faces worldwide. Increasing population growth, fast industrialization and modernization risk the worsening of water accessibility and quality in the coming years. Nanoadsorbents have steadily gained attention as remediation technologies that can meet stringent water quality demands. In this work, core–shell magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) comprised of an iron oxide magnetic core and a styrene based polymer shell were synthesized via surface initiated atom transfer radical polymerization (SI-ATRP) and characterized for their binding of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), as model organic contaminants. Acrylated plant derived polyphenols, curcumin multiacrylate (CMA) and quercetin multiacrylate (QMA), and divinylbenzene (DVB) were incorporated into the polymeric shell to create high affinity binding sites for PCBs. The affinity of these novel materials for PCB 126 was evaluated and fitted to the nonlinear Langmuir model to determine binding affinities (KD). The KD values obtained for all the MNP systems showed higher binding affinities for PCB 126 that carbonaceous materials, like activated carbon and graphene oxide, the most widely used adsorption materials for water remediation today. The effect of increasing ATRP reaction time on the binding affinity of MNPs demonstrated the ability to tune polymer shell thickness by modifying the reaction extent and initial crosslinker concentrations in order to maximize pollutant binding. The enhancement in binding affinity and capacity for PCB 126 was demonstrated by the use of hydrophobic, aromatic rich molecules like styrene, CMA, QMA and DVB, within the polymeric shell provides more sites for π-π interactions to occur between the MNP surface and the PCB molecules. Overall, the high affinities for PCBs, as model organic pollutants, and magnetic capabilities of the core–shell MNPs synthesized provide a strong rationale for their application as nanoadsorbents in the environmental remediation of specific harmful contaminants.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115577
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering B: Solid-State Materials for Advanced Technology
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Dr. Andrew Morris and Dr. Sony Soman for their help in method development for GC-ECD analysis and providing access to their facilities at the University of Kentucky’s small molecule mass spectrometry core laboratory. This project was supported by the grant number P42ES007380 the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The content of this paper is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the view of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • ATRP
  • Binding
  • Core–shell
  • Tunable coating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science (all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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