Interplay between thermal and magnetic properties of polymer nanocomposites with superparamagnetic Fe3O4 nanoparticles

Publication Name

Journal of Magnetism and Magnetic Materials


Magnetic nanoparticles embedded in polymer matrices have excellent potential for multifunctional applications like magnetic remote heating, controlled drug delivery, hyperthermia, and thermally functionalized biomedical devices. A solvent-based processing method was developed to produce magnetic composites consisting of magnetite (Fe3O4) superparamagnetic nanoparticles embedded in a biomedical-grade polyurethane (ChronoFlex® C). The particles had a log-normal size distribution spanning from 4−16 nm, with a mean-size of 9.5 ± 2 nm. X-ray diffraction, transmission electron microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy with elemental mapping were used to assess the phase purity, surface morphology, particle size, and homogeneity of the resulting nanocomposite. The magnetic properties of composites with 7–13 wt% of Fe3O4 were studied between 5 and 300 K using vibrating sample magnetometry. Room temperature magnetic attraction was observed, with a saturation magnetization of up to 5 emu/g and a low coercive field (Hc < 50 Oe), where the non-zero coercive field was attributed to a small fraction of larger particles that are ferromagnetic at room temperature. Field-cooled and zero-field-cooled magnetometry data were fitted to a numerical model to determine the superparamagnetic mean blocking temperature (TB = 90 K) of the embedded magnetite particles, and an effective magnetic anisotropy of 6×105 erg/cm3. Using an AC magnetic field operating at 85 kHz, we demonstrate that remote heating of the base polyurethane material is greatly enhanced by compositing with Fe3O4 nanoparticles, leading to temperatures up to 45 °C within 18 min for composites submerged in water. This work demonstrates the fundamental principles of a custom-designed thermomagnetic polymer composite that could be used in applications, including medical and heat management.

Open Access Status

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Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

Australian National Fabrication Facility



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