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Influence of Protected Annealing on the Magnetic Properties of γ‑Fe2O3 Nanoparticles

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journal contribution
posted on 02.08.2012, 00:00 by Charlotte Vichery, Isabelle Maurin, Pierre Bonville, Jean-Pierre Boilot, Thierry Gacoin
It is usually considered that nanoparticles synthesized by low-temperature routes present structural disorder, from extended defects to local rearrangements (e.g., vacancy ordering or inversion in spinel ferrites), that may severely impact their magnetic properties. In the present work, we have investigated the influence of postsynthesis thermal treatments on 7-nm-sized γ-Fe2O3 nanoparticles prepared by room temperature coprecipitation of ferric and ferrous salts in alkaline medium, followed by the dispersion of the preformed particles in a sol–gel silica binder. Such protected annealing in a refractory matrix prevents coalescence and growth, thus preserving the mean size and size distribution of the pristine particles. Structural characterizations show that heat treatments up to 1000 °C turned the raw grains into well-crystallized particles without transformation into hematite. This strategy thus allows accounting for the influence of structural rearrangements on magnetic properties at fixed particle size. For such 7 nm particles, postsynthesis heat treatments were found to mainly influence the shell of misaligned spins at the surface.