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Self-Assembled Layering of Magnetic Nanoparticles in a Ferrofluid on Silicon Surfaces

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posted on 04.01.2018, 00:00 by Katharina Theis-Bröhl, Erika C. Vreeland, Andrew Gomez, Dale L. Huber, Apurve Saini, Max Wolff, Brian B. Maranville, Erik Brok, Kathryn L. Krycka, Joseph A. Dura, Julie A. Borchers
This article describes the three-dimensional self-assembly of monodisperse colloidal magnetite nanoparticles (NPs) from a dilute water-based ferrofluid onto a silicon surface and the dependence of the resultant magnetic structure on the applied field. The NPs assemble into close-packed layers on the surface followed by more loosely packed ones. The magnetic field-dependent magnetization of the individual NP layers depends on both the rotational freedom of the layer and the magnetization of the adjacent layers. For layers in which the NPs are more free to rotate, the easy axis of the NP can readily orient along the field direction. In more dense packing, free rotation of the NPs is hampered, and the NP ensembles likely build up quasi-domain states to minimize energy, which leads to lower magnetization in those layers. Detailed analysis of polarized neutron reflectometry data together with model calculations of the arrangement of the NPs within the layers and input from small-angle scattering measurements provide full characterization of the core/shell NP dimensions, degree of chaining, arrangement of the NPs within the different layers, and magnetization depth profile.

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