Colloidal Solution With Magnetite Iron Oxide Essay

Colloidal Solution With Magnetite Iron Oxide Essay

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The purpose of this lab is to prepare a colloidal solution with magnetite iron oxide (Fe3O4) nanoparticles suspended in it. This colloidal solution is referred to as Ferrofluid. In addition, this lab also aims to examine the unique magnetic properties of ferrofluid. Generally, ferrofluids consist of very small magnetic fragments of iron oxide that are suspended in solution. These fragments are considered nanoparticles due to their extremely small size (~10 nm in diameter). They do not dissolve in the liquid they are in. Instead, they are merely suspended and float around in the solution. Ferrofluids can be synthesized using Fe(II) and Fe(III) salts, which chemically interact with basic NH3 solution, as shown in the equation below. This reaction results in precipitating iron oxide (Fe3O4) particles, which have unique magnetic properties.
2 FeCl3 + FeCl2 + 8 NH3 + 4H2O → Fe3O4 + 8 NH4Cl
Magnetite nanoparticles have several factors affecting their behavior in solution. For instance, these nanoparticles have a large surface area (when compared to their volume), as well as magnetic and van der waals attractions between them. Consequently, they come closer together and aggregate. However, when the size of these nanoparticles gets larger, their magnetic ability is affected. Thus, in order to keep the nanoparticles small and separated, and to prevent their aggregation, a surfactant is added1. A surfactant is a reagent that can negate the effect of van der waals attractions, thus, keeping the magnetite nanoparticles suspended in solution without aggregating. It works by coating the surface of these nanoparticles and causing them to electrostatically repulse each other. The surfactant used in this lab is tetramethylammonium hydroxide. This...

... middle of paper ...

...external magnet used. All in all, the unique mix of van der waals, magnetic and gravity forces cause ferrofluids to spike up in colonial shapes when exposed to a strong magnet (figure 2).

Figure 2: Spiking Phenomena of Ferrofluids
Ferrofluid was first designed during the 1960’s by NASA in order to control liquids in outer space via a magnet. Nevertheless, ferrofluid applications have expanded since then. It is used in computer hard drives, and in speakers to improve sound quality. Also, ferrofluids are used in art due to the aesthetic patterns and spikes it forms when close to a strong magnet. Moreover, research is still ongoing in order to employ ferrofluid in specific drug delivery to the different body parts2. As a result to this lab, ferrofluid was successfully synthesized, and the spiking of the ferrofluid was also accomplished by using a strong magnet.

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