Magnetic study of cufe2o4-sio2 aerogel and xerogel nanocomposites

Abstract
CuFe2O4 is an example of ferrites whose physico-chemical properties can vary greatly at the nanoscale. Here, sol-gel techniques are used to produce CuFe2O4-SiO2 nanocomposites where copper ferrite nanocrystals are grown within a porous dielectric silica matrix. Nanocomposites in the form of both xerogels and aerogels with variable loadings of copper ferrite (5 wt%, 10 wt% and 15 wt%) were synthesized. Transmission electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction investigations showed the occurrence of CuFe2O4 nanoparticles with average crystal size ranging from a few nanometers up to around 9 nm, homogeneously distributed within the porous silica matrix, after thermal treatment of the samples at 900 °C. Evidence of some impurities of CuO and α-Fe2O3 was found in the aerogel samples with 10 wt% and 15 wt% loading. DC magnetometry was used to investigate the magnetic properties of these nanocomposites, as a function of the loading of copper ferrite and of the porosity characteristics. All the nanocomposites show a blocking temperature lower than RT and soft magnetic features at low temperature. The observed magnetic parameters are interpreted taking into account the occurrence of size and interaction effects in an ensemble of superparamagnetic nanoparticles distributed in a matrix. These results highlight how aerogel and xerogel matrices give rise to nanocomposites with different magnetic features and how the spatial distribution of the nanophase in the matrices modifies the final magnetic properties with respect to the case of conventional unsupported nanoparticles.

Citation
Gaumet, A., Caddeo, F., Loche, D., Corrias, A., Casula, M., Falqui, A., & Casu, A. (2021). Magnetic Study of CuFe2O4-SiO2 Aerogel and Xerogel Nanocomposites. Nanomaterials, 11(10), 2680. doi:10.3390/nano11102680

Acknowledgements
This work was supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/K50306X/1). We acknowledge the CeSAR (Centro Servizi Ricerca d’Ateneo) core facility of the University of Cagliari and A. Ardu for assistance with the generation of TEM data. We thank Paul Saines (University of Kent) for his help in the SQUID measurements.

Publisher
MDPI AG

Journal
Nanomaterials

DOI
10.3390/nano11102680

Additional Links
https://www.mdpi.com/2079-4991/11/10/2680

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