Biosynthesis of zinc substituted magnetite nanoparticles with enhanced magnetic properties

James M. Byrne, Victoria S. Coker, Eva Cespedes, Paul L. Wincott, David J. Vaughan, Richard A D Pattrick, Gerrit Van Der Laan, Elke Arenholz, Floriana Tuna, Martin Bencsik, Jonathan R. Lloyd, Neil D. Telling

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The magnetic moments of magnetite nanoparticles are dramatically enhanced through the addition of zinc in a microbiologically driven synthesis procedure. The particles are produced through the reduction of Fe(III)-compounds containing Zn(II) by the iron reducing bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens. Results indicate a significant increase in the saturation magnetization by over 50% compared to magnetite at both room and low temperatures for relatively minor quantities of zinc substitution. A maximum saturation magnetization of nearly 100 emu g-1 of sample is measured at room temperature. Analysis of the cation site ordering reveals a complex dependence on the Zn content, with the combined effect of Zn substitution of Fe3+ ions on tetrahedral sites, together with Fe2+ cation oxidation, leading to the observed magnetization enhancement for low Zn doping levels. The improved magnetic properties give superior performance in MRI applications with an MRI contrast enhancement among the largest values reported, being more than 5 times larger than a commercial contrast agent (Feridex) measured under identical conditions. The synthesis technique applied here involves an environmentally benign route and offers the potential to tune the magnetic properties of magnetic nanoparticles, with increased overall magnetization desirable for many different commercial applications. A range of zinc doped magnetite nanoparticles are produced through the reduction of zinc-iron oxyhydroxide precursors by the bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens. These materials exhibit significant increases in saturation magnetization at low zinc concentrations in comparison to stoichiometric magnetite. The enhanced magnetic properties are tested as potential MRI contrast agents and show significant MRI contrast enhancement over a commercially available agent. © 2013 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2518-2529
    Number of pages12
    JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
    Issue number17
    Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2014


    • Fe(III) reduction
    • Mössbauer
    • saturation magnetization
    • zinc ferrite


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