Thermal plasma synthesis of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles

Pingyan Lei, Adam M. Boies, Steven Calder, Steven L. Girshick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles were synthesized by injecting ferrocene vapor and oxygen into an argon/helium DC thermal plasma. Size distributions of particles in the reactor exhaust were measured online using an aerosol extraction probe interfaced to a scanning mobility particle sizer, and particles were collected on transmission electron microscopy (TEM) grids and glass fiber filters for off-line characterization. The morphology, chemical and phase composition of the nanoparticles were characterized using TEM and X-ray diffraction, and the magnetic properties of the particles were analyzed with a vibrating sample magnetometer and a magnetic property measurement system. Aerosol at the reactor exhaust consisted of both single nanocrystals and small agglomerates, with a modal mobility diameter of 8-9 nm. Powder synthesized with optimum oxygen flow rate consisted primarily of magnetite (Fe 3O 4), and had a room-temperature saturation magnetization of 40.15 emu/g, with a coercivity and remanence of 26 Oe and 1.5 emu/g, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)519-531
Number of pages13
JournalPlasma Chemistry and Plasma Processing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This research was primarily supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation under Award Numbers CBET-0730184 and CBET-1066343, and by the Minnesota Futures Grant Program. Parts of the characterization work were conducted at the College of Science and Engineering Characterization Facility and the Institute for Rock Magnetism at the University of Minnesota.


  • DC thermal plasma
  • Iron oxide
  • Magnetic properties
  • Nanoparticles


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