Influence of size polydispersity on magnetic field tunable structures in magnetic nanofluids containing superparamagnetic nanoparticles

Dillip Kumar Mohapatra, Philip J. Camp, John Philip*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We probe the influence of particle size polydispersity on field-induced structures and structural transitions in magnetic fluids (ferrofluids) using phase contrast optical microscopy, light scattering and Brownian dynamics simulations. Three different ferrofluids containing superparamagnetic nanoparticles of different polydispersity indices (PDIs) are used. In a ferrofluid with a high PDI (∼0.79), thin chains, thick chains, and sheets are formed on increasing the in-plane magnetic field, whereas isotropic bubbles, and hexagonal and lamellar/stripe structures are formed on increasing the out-of-plane magnetic field over the same range. In contrast, no field-induced aggregates are seen in the sample with low polydispersity under the above conditions. In a polydisperse sample, bubbles are formed at a very low magnetic field strength of 30 G. Insights into the structural evolution with increasing magnetic field strength are obtained by carrying out Brownian dynamics simulations. The crossovers from isotropic, through hexagonal columnar, to lamellar/stripe structures observed with increasing field strength in the high-polydispersity sample indicate the prominent roles of large, more strongly interacting particles in structural transitions in ferrofluids. Based on the observed microstructures, a phase diagram is constructed. Our work opens up new opportunities to develop optical devices and access diverse structures by tuning size polydispersity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3573-3592
Number of pages20
JournalNanoscale Advances
Volume3
Issue number12
Early online date24 Apr 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Apr 2021

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