Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Hariharan Srikanth, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Martin Muschol, Ph.D.

Committee Member

George Nolas, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Manh-Huong Phan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sarath Witanachchi, Ph.D.


ferrites, magnetocaloric, nanocomposites, nanomaterial synthesis, surface spin disorder


Nanoparticle system research and characterization is the focal point of this research and dissertation. In the research presented here, magnetite, cobalt, and ferrite nanoparticle systems have been explored in regard to their magnetocaloric effect (MCE) properties, as well as for use in polymer composites. Both areas of study have potential applications across a wide variety of interdisciplinary fields.

Magnetite nanoparticles have been successfully dispersed in a polymer. The surface chemistry of the magnetic nanoparticle proves critical to obtaining a homogenous and well separated high density dispersion in PMMA. Theoretical studies found in the literature have indicated that surface interface energy is a critical component in dispersion. Oleic acid is used to alter the surface of magnetite nanoparticles and successfully achieve good dispersion in a PMMA thin film. Polypyrrole is then coated onto the PMMA composite layer. The bilayer is characterized using cross-sectional TEM, cross-sectional SEM, magnetic characterization, and low frequency conductivity. The results show that the superparmagnetic properties of the as synthesized particles are maintained in the composite.

With further study of the properties of these nanoparticles for real and functional uses, MCE is studied on a variety of magnetic nanoparticle systems. Magnetite, manganese zinc ferrite, and cobalt ferrite systems show significant broadening of the MCE and the ability to tune the peak temperature of MCE by varying the size of the nanoparticles. Four distinct systems are studied including cobalt, cobalt core silver shell nanoparticles, nickel ferrite, and ball milled zinc ferrite. The results demonstrate the importance of surface characteristics on MCE. Surface spin disorder appears to have a large influence on the low temperature magnetic and magnetocalorie characteristics of these nanoparticle systems.