Silica is one of the most abundant minerals in the Earth’s crust, and over time it has been introduced first into human life and later into engineering. Silica is present in the food chain and in the human body. As a biomaterial, silica is widely used in dentistry, orthopedics, and dermatology. Recently amorphous sol-gel SiO2
nanoparticles (NPs) have appeared as nanocarriers in a wide range of medical applications, namely in drug/gene target delivery
and imaging diagnosis
, where they stand out for their high biocompatibility, hydrophilicity, enormous flexibility for surface modification with a high payload capacity, and prolonged blood circulation time. The sol-gel process is an extremely versatile bottom-up
methodology used in the synthesis of silica NPs, offering a great variety of chemical possibilities, such as high homogeneity and purity, along with full scale pH processing. By introducing organic functional groups or surfactants during the sol-gel process, ORMOSIL
NPs or mesoporous NPs are produced. Colloidal route, biomimetic synthesis, solution route and template synthesis (the main sol-gel methods to produce monosized silica nanoparticles) are compared and discussed. This short review goes over some of the emerging approaches in the field of non-porous sol-gel silica NPs aiming at medical applications, centered on the syntheses processes used.
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