Superparamagnetic iron oxide (Fe3O4) nanoparticles are one of the most widely studied and used nanomaterials today. They are colloidally stable as there is no net magnetic moment and magnetic coupling between particles. However, the intrinsic ferromagnetic character of the materials leads to the high magnetic moment of these nanoparticles.
Numerous reports in the literature testify to their applications in medical diagnostics, catalysis, controlled drug release (including within Metal Organic Frameworks – MOFs), and separation technologies (ex. water remediation).
Even before the popularization of the term ‘nanotechnology,’ magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (aqueous) were used to isolate and purify proteins, DNA, viruses and even whole mammalian cells. Recently, surface-functionalized iron oxide nanoparticle based sensors that detect the presence of a particular target through changes in either a magnetic property of the nanoparticle or a physical property of the surrounding media have been developed. Furthermore, the biocompatibility and favourable pharmacokinetic profile of iron oxide nanoparticles coated with dextran has enabled their development as MRI-contrast agents and targetable molecular imaging agents.
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