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The role of nanoparticle structure and morphology in the dissolution kinetics and nutrient release of nitrate-doped calcium phosphate nanofertilizers

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  • Francisco J. Carmona, University of Insubria
  • ,
  • Gregorio Dal Sasso, National Research Council
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  • Federica Bertolotti, Department of Science and High Technology and To.Sca.Lab, University of Insubria
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  • Gloria B. Ramírez-Rodríguez, University of Insubria, University of Granada
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  • José M. Delgado-López, University of Granada
  • ,
  • Jan Skov Pedersen
  • Norberto Masciocchi, University of Insubria
  • ,
  • Antonietta Guagliardi, National Research Council

Bio-inspired synthetic calcium phosphate (CaP) nanoparticles (NPs), mimicking the mineral component of bone and teeth, are emergent materials for sustainable applications in agriculture. These sparingly soluble salts show self-inhibiting dissolution processes in undersaturated aqueous media, the control at the molecular and nanoscale levels of which is not fully elucidated. Understanding the mechanisms of particle dissolution is highly relevant to the efficient delivery of macronutrients to the plants and crucial for developing a valuable synthesis-by-design approach. It has also implications in bone (de)mineralization processes. Herein, we shed light on the role of size, morphology and crystallinity in the dissolution behaviour of CaP NPs and on their nitrate doping for potential use as (P,N)-nanofertilizers. Spherical fully amorphous NPs and apatite-amorphous nanoplatelets (NPLs) in a core-crown arrangement are studied by combining forefront Small-Angle and Wide-Angle X-ray Total Scattering (SAXS and WAXTS) analyses. Ca2+ ion release rates differ for spherical NPs and NPLs demonstrating that morphology plays an active role in directing the dissolution kinetics. Amorphous NPs manifest a rapid loss of nitrates governed by surface-chemistry. NPLs show much slower release, paralleling that of Ca2+ ions, that supports both detectable nitrate incorporation in the apatite structure and dissolution from the core basal faces.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12396
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

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