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Evaluating the Critical Roles of Precursor Nature and Water Content When Tailoring Magnetic Nanoparticles for Specific Applications
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Because of the broad range of application of iron oxide nanoparticles (NPs), the control of their size and shape on demand remains a great challenge, as these parameters are of upmost importance to provide NPs with magnetic properties tailored to the targeted application. One promising synthesis process to tune their size and shape is the thermal decomposition one, for which a lot of parameters were investigated. But two crucial issues were scarcely addressed: the precursors nature and water content. Two in house iron stearates with two or three stearate chains were synthesized, dehydrated, and then tested in standard synthesis conditions of spherical and cubic NPs. Investigations combined with modeling showed that the precursors nature and hydration rate strongly affect the thermal decomposition kinetics and yields, which, in turn, influence the NP size. The cubic shape depends on the decomposition kinetics but also crucially on the water content. A microscopic insight was provided by first-principles simulation showing an iron reduction along the reaction pathway and a participation of water molecules to the building unit formation.