• Marcano, L.; Orue, I.; Gandia, D.; Gandarias, L.; Weigand, M.; Abrudan, R.M.; Garcia-Prieto, A.; Garcia-Arribas, A.; Muela, A.; Fdez-Gubieda, M.L.; Valencia, S.: Magnetic Anisotropy of Individual Nanomagnets Embedded in Biological Systems Determined by Axi-asymmetric X-ray Transmission Microscopy. ACS Nano 16 (2022), p. 7398–7408

Open Access Version

Over the past few years, the use of nanomagnets in biomedical applications has increased. Among others, magnetic nanostructures can be used as diagnostic and therapeutic agents in cardiovascular diseases, to locally destroy cancer cells, to deliver drugs at specific positions, and to guide (and track) stem cells to damaged body locations in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. All these applications rely on the magnetic properties of the nanomagnets which are mostly determined by their magnetic anisotropy. Despite its importance, the magnetic anisotropy of the individual magnetic nanostructures is unknown. Currently available magnetic sensitive microscopic methods are either limited in spatial resolution or in magnetic field strength or, more relevant, do not allow one to measure magnetic signals of nanomagnets embedded in biological systems. Hence, the use of nanomagnets in biomedical applications must rely on mean values obtained after averaging samples containing thousands of dissimilar entities. Here we present a hybrid experimental/theoretical method capable of working out the magnetic anisotropy constant and the magnetic easy axis of individual magnetic nanostructures embedded in biological systems. The method combines scanning transmission X-ray microscopy using an axi-asymmetric magnetic field with theoretical simulations based on the Stoner-Wohlfarth model. The validity of the method is demonstrated by determining the magnetic anisotropy constant and magnetic easy axis direction of 15 intracellular magnetite nanoparticles (50 nm in size) biosynthesized inside a magnetotactic bacterium.