Spin canting across core/shell Fe3O4/MnxFe3−xO4 nanoparticles

S.D. Oberdick, A. M. Abdelgawad, C. Moya, S. M. Vasey, D. Kepaptsoglou, V. K. Lazarov, R. F.L Evans, D. Meilak, E. Skoropata, J. Lierop, I. Hunt-Isaak, H. Pan, Y. Ijiri, K. L. Krycka, J. A Borchers, S. A. Majetich

Magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) have become increasingly important in biomedical applications like magnetic imaging and hyperthermia based cancer treatment. Understanding their magnetic spin configurations is important for optimizing these applications. The measured magnetization of MNPs can be significantly lower than bulk counterparts, often due to canted spins. This has previously been presumed to be a surface effect, where reduced exchange allows spins closest to the nanoparticle surface to deviate locally from collinear structures. We demonstrate that intraparticle effects can induce spin canting throughout a MNP via the Dzyaloshinskii-Moriya interaction (DMI). We study ~7.4 nm diameter, core/shell Fe3O4 /MnxFe3−xO4  MNPs with a 0.5 nm Mn-ferrite shell. Mössbauer spectroscopy, x-ray absorption spectroscopy and x-ray magnetic circular dichroism are used to determine chemical structure of core and shell. Polarized small angle neutron scattering shows parallel and perpendicular magnetic correlations, suggesting multiparticle coherent spin canting in an applied field. Atomistic simulations reveal the underlying mechanism of the observed spin canting. These show that strong DMI can lead to magnetic frustration within the shell and cause canting of the net particle moment. These results illuminate how core/shell nanoparticle systems can be engineered for spin canting across the whole of the particle, rather than solely at the surface.