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Superparamagents and superhot nanoparticle iron oxide

  1. Dec 2, 2014 #1
    I'm trying to understand superparamagentism. There is an experimental medical treatment that uses the superparamagnetism properties of nanoparticle-sized iron oxide particles. Injected into a cancer tumour, when the person is placed in a rapidly alternating magnetic field, the iron oxide particles heat - effectively burning the tissue into which they are injected.

    As far as I understand, when an iron oxide particle is sufficiently small, it acts as a single magnetic domain. And as the particle gets smaller, it's Curie temperature decreases (have I got that right?) to something approaching room temperature - giving it the properties of a superparamagnet.

    Quite what this means in terms of iron oxide (which I presume is acting like a paramagnet) and why placing it in an alternating magnetic field will cause it to heat, I do not understand.

    Can anyone make sense of this?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 2, 2014 #2


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    Hmm, good question. I found the following article about it: http://www.nbnanoscale.com/nB-magnetic-hyperthermia.html [Broken]

    Based off what the article is saying, the heating comes from the friction of the motion of the nanoparticle itself, and the motion of the domain walls in multi-domain particles. In other words, the particle can rotate, which generates heat via friction, or the domain wall between two magnetic domains can move. I'm not quite sure how the latter generates heat, as I don't know much about magnetic domains.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
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