Iron nanocubes will help decontaminate water
UN/DICYT “In absence of a magnetic field, the behavior of these pollutants is like a liquid but in presence of this field, materials with iron nanoparticles acquire properties as if they were solids and may be easily eliminated,” said Professor Álvaro Duarte, who heads the UNal Department of Chemistry’s Group of New Nano and Supramolecular Materials.
Iron converted into nanocubes is supraparamagnetic, in other words it acquires magnetic properties in presence of a magnetic field. Therefore it is enough to bring a magnet near to remove the particles that are adhered to the iron nanoparticles.
“A this level particles are absorbed only through ultraviolet radiation, this is why they are used as the main component for solar protectors,” says Duarte.
The aforementioned group is researching the possibility that at a nano scale iron can have catalytic effects in presence of light, therefore illuminating contaminated water, organic components can be decomposed.
Since a few years back, iron oxide nanoparticles are being used as contrasting agents in magnetic resonances. “As in cases where physicians need to perform an MRI of the internal organs of a patient,” he adds.
Duarte says UNal has obtained iron nanocubes with an optimal size distribution, between 10 and 200 nanometers, so they may understand under what conditions they can alter the size of nanocubes.
With the sizes achieved and using high temperatures they obtained large and mid-sized nanocubes. Nanoparticles are obtained from an organic metallic compound very similar to a sandwich where iron is in the middle, this compound is called ferrocene.
Duarte says that obtaining these nanocubes is not expensive because iron is one of the most abundant metals on the earth’s crust and Colombia has good deposits of this mineral.
Currently researchers are working on obtaining iron nanobars which have important data storage applications.
For the 3rd quarter of 2015 and within the framework of this joint research project, undergraduate Héctor Lozano will travel to Purdue University to deepen his knowledge on the topic. The results of this nanocube synthesis project have already been showcased in several scientific congresses in Indiana (USA) and Moscow.