a1 Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, USA
Iron magnetic nanoparticles were synthesized under an inert atmosphere via the reaction between FeCl3 and NaBH4 in droplets of water in a microemulsion consisting of octane with cetyl trimethylammonium bromide and butanol as surfactants. A thin Fe3O4 layer was produced on the iron nanoparticles using slow, controlled oxidation at room temperature. A silica shell was deposited on the Fe3O4 using 3-aminopropyltrimethoxysilane following the method of Zhang et al. [Mater. Sci. Eng. C 30 (2010) 92–97]. The structure and chemistry of the resulting nanoparticles were studied using variety of methods and their magnetic properties were determined. The diameter of the iron core was typically 8-16 nm, while the thickness of the Fe3O4 shell was 2-3 nm. The presence of the silica layer was confirmed using Fourier transform infra-red spectroscopy and the number of NH2-groups on each nanoparticle was determined based on colorimetric tests using ortho-phthalaldehyde.