Optimized synthesis of the elusive ∈-Fe<inf>2</inf>O<inf>3</inf> phase via sol-gel chemistry
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∈-Fe2O3 nanoparticles embedded in a SiO 2 matrix have been synthesized by sol-gel chemistry and high temperature heat treatments. Virtually pure ∈-Fe2O3 (in excess of 93%) is obtained, although a two-phase mixture, ∈-Fe 2O3 + α-Fe2O3, is observed for Fe2O3/SiO2 ratios greater than 37 wt %. The ∈-Fe2O3 nanoparticles are stable up to ∼1600 K. Optimized ∈-Fe2O3 nanoparticles are ferrimagnetic, with a Curie temperature TC ≈ 510 K, and remarkably high values of room-temperature coercivity, HC = 20 kOe.