Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name



Physics and Astronomy

First Advisor

Ratna Naik


Magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) of Fe3O4 and gamma-Fe2O3 have been exploited in the biomedical fields for imaging, targeted drug delivery and magnetic hyperthermia. Magnetic hyperthermia (MHT), the production of heat using ferrofluids, colloidal suspensions of MNPs, in an external AC magnetic field (amplitude, 100-500 Oe and frequency 50 kHz -1MHz), has been explored by many researchers, both in vitro and in vivo, as an alternative viable option to treat cancer. The heat energy generated by Néel and Brownian relaxation processes of the internal magnetic spins could be used to elevate local tissue temperature to about 46 ˚C to arrest cancerous growth. MHT, due to its local nature of heating, when combined with other forms of treatment such as chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, it could become an effective therapy for cancer treatment. The efficiency of heat production in MHT is quantified by specific absorption rate (SAR), defined as the power output per gram of the MNPs used.

In this thesis, ferrofluids consisting of Fe3O4 MNPs of three different sizes (~ 10 - 13 nm) coated with two different biocompatible surfactants, dextran and polyethylene glycol (PEG), have been investigated. The structural and magnetic characterization of the MNPs were done using XRD, TEM, and DC magnetization measurements. While XRD revealed the crystallite size, TEM provided the information about morphology and physical size distribution of the MNPs. Magnetic measurements of M-vs-H curves for ferrofluids provided information about the saturation magnetization (Ms) and magnetic core size distribution of MNPs. Using MHT measurements, the SAR has been studied as a function of temperature, taking into account the heat loss due to non-adiabatic nature of the experimental set-up. The observed SAR values have been interpreted using the theoretical framework of linear response theory (LRT).

We found the SAR values depend on particle size distribution of MNPs, Ms (65-80 emu/g) and the magnetic anisotropy energy density (K: 12-20 KJ/m3), as well as the amplitude and frequency of the applied AC field (amplitude, 150-250 Oe and frequency, 180-380 kHz). In general, Ms and magnetic core diameter of MNPs increased with the increase in particle size. However, our detailed analysis of MHT data show that although SAR increased with the particle size, the polydispersity of the particles as well as the magnetic anisotropy energy density significantly affected the SAR values. Dextran and PEG coatings essentially yielded similar SAR values ~ 100 W/g using ferrofluids of Fe3O4 MNPs with an average crystallite size of 11.6 ± 2.1 nm, in AC field of 245 Oe and 375 KHz.