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HTS SQUID microscopy is applied for measuring the magnetization relaxation of the ensembles of noninteracting Fe3O4 nanoparticles dispersed in rigid polymer matrix preventing nanoparticles from agglomeration. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is used to determine the size distribution of magnetic nanoparticles and to control the homogeneity of their spatial distribution in the matrix. High sensitivity of SQUID microscope allows us to study samples at low contents of the magnetic component (0.1-0.5 vol%) magnetized in low magnetic field (∼10-4 T) produced by a low-inductance coil with short switching time (20 μs). A low content of the magnetic component provides the absence of interparticle dipolar interactions, thus simplifying significantly the theoretical description of the magnetization relaxation process. The detection of magnetization relaxation starts after the external magnetizing field is switched off and proceeds for several minutes. A series of samples with a mean size of nanoparticles of about 7 nm possessing relaxation times less than 5 min was measured at a temperature of 77 K. The calculation formula based on the Stoner-Wohlfarth model for single-domain particles with a size distribution as determined from the TEM images will enable to obtain reliable data on the anisotropy constant and the saturation magnetization of Fe3O4 nanoparticles studied.
Date of Publication: Sept. 2005