A general method to coat colloidal particles with silica
A general method to coat colloids with silica is described. The amphiphilic, nonionic polymer poly(vinylpyrrolidone) (PVP) was adsorbed to various colloidal particles such as small gold colloids, gold-shell silica-core particles, small and large silver colloids, boehmite rods, gibbsite platelets, and positively or negatively charged polystyrene. After this functionalization the stabilized particles could be transferred to a solution of ammonia in ethanol and directly coated with smooth and homogeneous silica shells of variable thickness by addition of tetraethoxysilane in a seeded growth process. The length of the polymer used strongly influences the stability of the colloids and the homogeneity and smoothness of the initial silica coating. This method is especially useful for colloidal particles that cannot be covered directly with SiO2 by a Stöber-like growth process. Compared to methods known from the literature for the coating of such particles, this new method is faster and requires neither the use of silane coupling agents nor a precoating step with sodium silicate, which is poorly reproducible.