The size and morphology of the prepared SPCIONPs were observed with a transmission electron microscope (TEM, HITACHI, USA). The size distribution was determined by measuring diameters of 100 NPs randomly selected on the TEM micrographs. A Zetasizer Nano ZS (Malvern, UK) was used to determine the zeta potential of the CS, SPIONPs, SPCIONPs and SPCIONPs/pIGFBP5. The magnetic induction of SPIONPs and SPCIONPs was measured at 300 K using a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID, a magnetic property measurement system (MPMS), Quantum Design, USA). The structural characterization of CS, SPIONPs and SPCIONPs was performed with a Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectrometer using the KBr compression method. The molecular structure of prepared SPCIONPs were loaded onto the XY scanner of the AFM (IPC-208B, Chongqing University, China) [3032]; the area to be scanned was localized on the monitor, and then images generated at room temperature under ambient conditions using the non-contact mode. A 100 mm scanner and a STM probe were used in the study, with a customized tungsten filament as the micro-cantilever to detect an area of 12.01 × 12.01 nm.

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