Understanding the complexity of the formation of minerals in nature is the key of future material design
Magnetite (Fe3O4) is a wide-spread magnetic iron oxide with many technological applications. Since its magnetic properties depend on shape and size of the crystals, crystal morphology control is important for application designing. Synthetic methods to form well-defined magnetite crystals use high temperatures and/or organic solvents. In contrast, aqueous synthesis at room temperature yields to poor control over size and shape of the crystals obtained. In nature, magnetotactic bacteria are able to form magnetite crystals with high control size and morphology. Biological systems can control nucleation and growth by combining the use of a poorly crystalline precursor phase and the interaction of minerals with biomolecular templates. We focus on finding new bio-inspired routes that enable better control over the crystal size and morphology in aqueous synthesis. To understand the mechanisms of magnetite formation, we look at the early stages of nucleation and growth process and at the interaction of the inorganic and organic phases. We combine synthetic design and full characterization of the materials with a wide-range of analysis techniques such as Raman spectroscopy, XPS, FT-IR, UV-vis, and (cryogenic) TEM. Gaining fundamental knowledge about how magnetite is formed can potentially allow the design of particles with tailored magnetic properties, which would pave the way for exciting new technological applications.
Giulia Mirabello is a postdoctoral researcher at the Center of Multi-Scale Electron Microscopy and the Laboratory of Materials and Interface Chemistry under the supervision of Prof. Nico Sommerdijk investigating the mechanism of collagen mineralization in bone. She graduated with a bachelor degree in Chemistry from the University of Palermo in 2011. She obtained a master degree in Photochemistry and Molecular Materials cum laude at the University of Bologna in 2014. In the same year, she moved to Eindhoven University of technology to join the Laboratory of Materials and Interface Chemistry as a PhD student under the supervision of prof.dr. Nico Sommerdijk. During her Ph.D, she studied the bio-inspired crystal formation mechanism of magnetite using cryo-transmission electron microscopy.
Nucleation and growth of magnetite in bioinspired environments(2018)
Breaking the nanoparticle loading-dispersion dichotomy in polymer nanocomposites with the art of croissant-makingACS Nano (2018)
Bioinspired synthesis of magnetite nanoparticlesChemical Society Reviews (2016)
Bioinspired magnetite synthesis via solid precursor phasesChemical Science (2016)
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