Remanence plots as a probe of spin disorder in magnetic nanoparticles

Jose A. De Toro, Marianna Vasilakaki, Su Seong Lee, Mikael S. Andersson, Peter S. Normile, Nader Yaacoub, Peyton Murray, Elena H. Sánchez, Pablo Muñiz, Davide Peddis, Roland Mathieu, Kai Liu, Julian Geshev, Kalliopi N. Trohidou, Josep Nogués

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


© 2017 American Chemical Society. Remanence magnetization plots (e.g., Henkel or δM plots) have been extensively used as a straightforward way to determine the presence and intensity of dipolar and exchange interactions in assemblies of magnetic nanoparticles or single domain grains. Their evaluation is particularly important in functional materials whose performance is strongly affected by the intensity of interparticle interactions, such as patterned recording media and nanostructured permanent magnets, as well as in applications such as hyperthermia and magnetic resonance imaging. Here, we demonstrate that δM plots may be misleading when the nanoparticles do not have a homogeneous internal magnetic configuration. Substantial dips in the M plots of γ-Fe2O3 nanoparticles isolated by thick SiO2 shells indicate the presence of demagnetizing interactions, usually identified as dipolar interactions. Our results, however, demonstrate that it is the inhomogeneous spin structure of the nanoparticles, as most clearly evidenced by Mössbauer measurements, that has a pronounced effect on the δM plots, leading to features remarkably similar to those produced by dipolar interactions. X-ray diffraction results combined with magnetic characterization indicate that this inhomogeneity is due to the presence of surface structural (and spin) disorder. Monte Carlo simulations unambiguously corroborate the critical role of the internal magnetic structure in the δM plots. Our findings constitute a cautionary tale on the widespread use of remanence plots to assess interparticle interactions as well as offer new perspectives in the use of Henkel and δM plots to quantify the rather elusive inhomogeneous magnetization states in nanoparticles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8258-8268
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2017


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