Heterostructured magnetic tubes with submicrometer dimensions were assembled by the layer-by-layer deposition of polyelectrolytes and nanoparticles in the pores of track-etched polycarbonate membranes. Multilayers composed of poly(allylamine hydrochloride) and poly(styrene sulfonate) assembled at high pH (pH > 9.0) were first assembled into the pores of track-etched polycarbonate membranes, and then multilayers of magnetite (Fe3O4) nanoparticles and PAH were deposited. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) confirmed the formation of multilayer nanotubes with an inner shell of magnetite nanoparticles. These tubes exhibited superparamagnetic characteristics at room temperature (300 K) as determined by a SQUID magnetometer. The surface of the magnetic nanotubes could be further functionalized by adsorbing poly(ethylene oxide)-b-poly(methacrylic acid) block copolymers. The separation and release behavior of low molecular weight anionic molecules (i.e., ibuprofen, rose bengal, and acid red 8) by/from the multilayer nanotubes were studied because these tubes could potentially be used as separation or targeted delivery vehicles. The magnetic tubes could be successfully used to separate (or remove) a high concentration of dye molecules (i.e., rose bengal) from solution by activating the nanotubes in acidic solution. The release of the anionic molecules in physiologically relevant buffer solution showed that whereas bulky molecules (e.g., rose bengal) release slowly, small molecules (i.e., ibuprofen) release rapidly from the multilayers. The combination of the template method and layer-by-layer deposition of polyelectrolytes and nanoparticles provides a versatile means to create functional nanotubes with heterostructures that can be used for separation as well as targeted delivery.
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