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Magnetic field-induced assembly of superparamagnetic cobalt nanoparticles on substrates and at liquid-air interface

: Tan, Li; Liu, Bing; Glebe, Ulrich; Böker, Alexander


Langmuir. The ACS journal of surfaces and colloids 34 (2018), Nr.46, S.13993-14002
ISSN: 0743-7463
ISSN: 1520-5827
Fraunhofer IAP ()

Superparamagnetic cobalt nanoparticles (Co NPs) are an interesting material for self-assembly processes because of their magnetic properties. We investigated the magnetic field-induced assembly of superparamagnetic cobalt nanoparticles and compared three different approaches, namely, the assembly on solid substrates, at water–air, and ethylene glycol–air interfaces. Oleic acid- and trioctylphosphine oxide-coated Co NPs were synthesized via a thermolysis of cobalt carbonyl and dispersed into either hexane or toluene. The Co NP dispersion was dropped onto different substrates (e.g., transmission electron microscopy (TEM) grid, silicon wafer) and onto liquid surfaces. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM), scanning force microscopy, optical microscopy, as well as scanning electron microscopy showed that superparamagnetic Co NPs assembled into one-dimensional chains in an external magnetic field. By varying the concentration of the Co NP dispersion (1–5 mg/mL) and the strength of the magnetic field (4–54 mT), the morphology of the chains changed. Short, thin, and flexible chain structures were obtained at low NP concentration and low strength of magnetic field, whereas they became long, thick and straight when the NP concentration and the magnetic field strength increased. In comparison, the assembly of Co NPs from hexane dispersion at ethylene glycol–air interface showed the most regular and homogeneous alignment, since a more efficient spreading could be achieved on ethylene glycol than on water and solid substrates.