These are preliminary reports that have not been peer-reviewed. They should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or be reported in news media as established information. For more information, please see our FAQs.

The Dissociation Rate of Acetylacetonate Ligands Governs the Size of Ferrimagnetic Zinc Ferrite Nanocubes

submitted on 24.09.2019 and posted on 27.09.2019 by Aidin Lak, Tamara Kahmann, Simon Jakob Schaper, Jaroslava Obel, Frank Ludwig, Peter Müller-Buschbaum, Jan Lipfert
Magnetic nanoparticles are critical to a broad range of applications, from medical diagnostics and therapeutics to biotechnological processes and single molecule manipulation. To advance these applications, facile and robust routes to synthesize highly magnetic nanoparticles over a wide size range are needed. Here, we demonstrate that changing the degassing temperature of thermal decomposition of metal acetylacetonate precursors from 90 to 25°C tunes the size of ferrimagnetic ZnxFe3-xO4 nanocubes from 25 to 100 nm, respectively. We show that degassing at 90°C nearly entirely removes acetylacetone ligands from the reaction, which results in an early formation of monomers and a reaction-controlled growth following LaMer's model towards small nanocubes. In contrast, degassing at 25°C only partially dissociates acetylacetone ligands from the metal center and triggers a delayed formation of monomers, which leads to intermediate assembled structures made of tiny irregular crystallites and an eventual formation of large nanocubes via a diffusion-controlled growth mechanism. Using complementary techniques, we determine the substitution fraction x of Zn2+ to be in the range of 0.35-0.37. Our method reduces the complexity of the thermal decomposition method by narrowing the synthesis parameter space to a single physical parameter and enables fabrication of highly magnetic and uniform zinc ferrite nanocubes over a broad size range. The resulting particles are promising for a range of applications, from magnetic fluid hyperthermia to actuation of macromolecules.


Email Address of Submitting Author


Department of Physics, LMU Munich



ORCID For Submitting Author


Declaration of Conflict of Interest

No conflict of interest