2020 - 2021


Project: High quality magnetic particles
Funding: AGAUR
Project ID: 2019 LLAV 00051
IREC Role: Coordinator
Main IREC Group: Functional Nanomaterials, Pablo Guardia

About the project

HiQ-Mag will validate in a relevant environment our process to transform poor magnetic nanocrystals (MNCs) into high quality ones. The process is based on an annealing step at mild temperatures in the presence of additives in solution. It allows to significantly improve the crystallinity of the NCs and hence their saturation magnetization. This process can be suitable implemented to any hydrophilic or hydrophobic colloidal dispersion of MNCs. Noteworthy, it does not significant affect the size and shape distribution of the MNCs, nor compromises the stability of the shell (i.e. molecular functionalization and organic or inorganic coatings). In few words, HiQ-Mag recycles MNCs.

The synthesis and commercialization of colloids is an ever-growing market with a rather strict demand depending on the target applications. Most nanocrystals (NCs) colloidal formulations successfully address most market needs. However, MNCs colloids do not fulfil the expectations. Magnetism does strongly depend over the crystallographic quality and most synthesis procedures provide poor crystallinity NCs. As such, MNCs show low saturation magnetization values and hence performances. This drawback can be partially overcome by increasing either the amount of MNCs or the magnetic field strength. Yet, for most appealing and relevant application of MNCs (e.g. nanomedicine or catalysis) these strategies are simply not affordable. The paradigm of this issue are iron oxide NCs (IONCs) and its use for hyperthermia cancer therapies or MRI imaging. Both applications require for IONCS produced in a rather narrow size range (18-22 nm) having the highest saturation magnetization values. Fulfilling these requirements is mandatory to reduce dose, side effects as well as treatment costs.

Currently, most of the large-scale synthesis routes reported for IONCs do not provide high-quality NCs neither control precisely the size. There are few lab-scale approaches that do successfully provide high quality MNCs but with poor reproducibility, rather low yield (40 mg per synthesis) and require for high-trained operators. As such, there is a clear need to find an operator-friendly process meeting high quality MNCs and mass production.

HiQ-Mag addresses the current needs and provides a flexible, yet efficient, solution to be applied to any established industrial process, transforming mass-produced IONCs into a high quality product.


The Catalan’ Government’s Agency for Management and of University and Research Grants (AGAUR) has awarded this the project with Llavor grant. The project is co-financed by the European Union through the European Regional Development fund (ERDF) and supported by the Secretary of Universities and Research of the Ministry for Business and Knowledge of the Government of Catalonia.