Author ORCID Identifier

Document Type


Publication Date



Statler College of Engineering and Mining Resources


Chemical and Biomedical Engineering


Manganese oxide (MnO) nanoparticles (NPs) can serve as robust pH-sensitive contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) due to Mn2+ release at low pH, which generates a ~30 fold change in T1 relaxivity. Strategies to control NP size, composition, and Mn2+ dissolution rates are essential to improve diagnostic performance of pH-responsive MnO NPs. We are the first to demonstrate that MnO NP size and composition can be tuned by the temperature ramping rate and aging time used during thermal decomposition of manganese(II) acetylacetonate. Two different temperature ramping rates (10°C/min and 20°C/min) were applied to reach 300°C and NPs were aged at that temperature for 5, 15, or 30 min. A faster ramping rate and shorter aging time produced the smallest NPs of ~23 nm. Shorter aging times created a mixture of MnO and Mn3O4 NPs, whereas longer aging times formed MnO. Our results indicate that a 20°C/min ramp rate with an aging time of 30 min was the ideal temperature condition to form the smallest pure MnO NPs of ~32 nm. However, Mn2+ dissolution rates at low pH were unaffected by synthesis conditions. Although Mn2+ production was high at pH 5 mimicking endosomes inside cells, minimal Mn2+ was released at pH 6.5 and 7.4, which mimic the tumor extracellular space and blood, respectively. To further elucidate the effects of NP composition and size on Mn2+ release and MRI contrast, the ideal MnO NP formulation (~32 nm) was compared with smaller MnO and Mn3O4 NPs. Small MnO NPs produced the highest amount of Mn2+ at acidic pH with maximum T1 MRI signal; Mn3O4 NPs generated the lowest MRI signal. MnO NPs encapsulated within poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) retained significantly higher Mn2+ release and MRI signal compared to PLGA Mn3O4 NPs. Therefore, MnO instead of Mn3O4 should be targeted intracellularly to maximize MRI contrast.

Source Citation

Martinez de la Torre C, Grossman JH, Bobko AA, Bennewitz MF (2020) Tuning the size and composition of manganese oxide nanoparticles through varying temperature ramp and aging time. PLoS ONE 15(9): e0239034.


Copyright: © 2020 Martinez de la Torre et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.