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Implication of Ligand Choice on Surface Properties, Crystal Structure, and Magnetic Properties of Iron Nanoparticles


  • [+] Present address: Department of Chemistry, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 98195, USA

  • [++] Present address: California NanoSystems Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-6105, USA



The behavior of iron nanoparticles is heavily influenced by their highly reactive surfaces. A better understanding of organic ligand/particle interactions must be achieved in order to synthesize iron nanoparticles with magnetic saturations (σ sat) equivalent to bulk iron. Even when synthesized using careful, air-free chemistry techniques and ligands more weakly interacting than those often reported in the literature, the magnetic saturation of iron nanoparticles generally only approaches, but not equals, the magnetic saturation of bulk iron. Here, iron nanoparticles are synthesized using Schlenk line chemistry methods and two different weakly interacting ligands: 2,4-pentanedione and hexaethylene glycol monododecylether. These particles have saturation magnetizations slightly lower than bulk iron, which is believed to be caused by interactions between the passivating ligands and the surface of the nanoparticles. Using X-ray absorption fine structure studies, it is shown that oxidized species of iron exist at the nanoparticles’ surface and can be attributed to iron/ligand interaction. The percentage of oxidized species scales with the surface to volume ratio of the nanoparticles, and therefore appears limited to the nanoparticle surface. X-ray absorption fine structure analysis also shows that the nanoparticles have an expanded crystalline lattice, which can further impact their magnetic properties.