Tiny iron oxide nanoparticles find many applications related to in vivo bioengineering and biomedicine mainly because of their super paramagnetic properties. Such applications are in the fields of medical diagnosis bio-molecular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), magnetic particle imaging (MPI), magnetic fluid hyperthermia (MFH), and therapeutics with targeted drug and gene delivery, cell separation, etc. These particles are also used in non-medical applications, such as in the construction of computer hard disk drives. Super paramagnetic materials do not retain any net magnetization once the external magnetic field has been removed; hence, they possess no magnetic memory. To become super paramagnetic, ferromagnetic particles need to be smaller than 100 nm and to have a narrow particle size distribution. For medical applications, these particles are treated with non-toxic biocompatible coatings. While a large amount of work has been performed for improving these materials, additional work is needed on methods for their bulk generation with high quality, reasonable cost, and improved biocompatibility. 
Technology Overview
In this technology, Northeastern University researchers offer a combustion-based method for producing iron oxide nanoparticles from iron powder precursors. This is an expedient combustion-based method which burns sub-millimetric iron particles. Highly-exothermic combustion also provides opportunities for simultaneous energy harvesting. 
This research revealed that under certain conditions combustion of micro metric iron particles generate aerosols of nanometric iron oxide particles. Such aerosols are uniquely amenable to size classification by virtual impaction. With this method, particles with sizes smaller than 100 nm can be separated from larger particles for further processing. 
These nanoparticles consist mostly of hematite. Post-generation reduction of hematite at moderate temperatures, in the presence of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, or methane, can readily convert such hematite nanoparticles to magnetite nanoparticles, which are known for their good super paramagnetic properties.
- Produces heat, which can be harvested and used for power generation and can be converted to steam which, in turn, can be converted to electricity with steam turbines. 
- Generates iron oxides and generates no gaseous or solid carbonaceous products, i.e., it is an environmentally benign process
- Can yield nanometric particles of desired size cuts with diameters smaller than 100 nm
- Reaction of the collected hematite particles with H2 or CO or CH4 at low to moderate temperatures (50-600° C) for brief durations can convert hematite to magnetite, which is desirable for super paramagnetic applications
- In vivo bioengineering and biomedical applications 
- Medical diagnosis biomolecular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), magnetic particle imaging (MPI), magnetic fluid hyperthermia (MFH)
- Therapeutics with targeted drug and gene delivery, and cell separation
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- Research collaboration
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Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Mark Saulich
Associate Director of Commercialization
Northeastern University
Yiannis Levendis
Aidin Panahi
Drug Delivery
Medical Imaging
nanomaterial synthesis
superparamagnetic nanoparticles