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Lak, Aidin; Cassani, Marco; Mai, Binh T.; Winckelmans, Naomi; Cabrera, David; Sadrollahi, Elaheh; Marras, Sergio; Remmer, Hilke; Fiorito, Sergio; Cremades-Jimeno, Lucia; Litterst, Fred Jochen; Ludwig, Frank; Manna, Liberato; Teran, Francisco J.; Bals, Sara; Pellegrino, Teresa (2018): Fe2+ Deficiencies, FeO Subdomains, and Structural Defects Favor Magnetic Hyperthermia Performance of Iron Oxide Nanocubes into Intracellular Environment. In: Nano Letters, Vol. 18, No. 11: pp. 6856-6866
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Abstract

Herein, by studying a stepwise phase transformation of 23 nm FeO-Fe3O4 core-shell nanocubes into Fe3O4, we identify a composition at which the magnetic heating performance of the nanocubes is not affected by the medium viscosity and aggregation. Structural and magnetic characterizations reveal the transformation of the FeO-Fe3O4 nanocubes from having stoichiometric phase compositions into Fe2+-deficient Fe3O4 phases. The resultant nanocubes contain tiny compressed and randomly distributed FeO subdomains as well as structural defects. This phase transformation causes a 10-fold increase in the magnetic losses of the nanocubes, which remain exceptionally insensitive to the medium viscosity as well as aggregation unlike similarly sized single-phase magnetite nanocubes. We observe that the dominant relaxation mechanism switches from Neel in fresh core-shell nanocubes to Brownian in partially oxidized nanocubes and once again to Neel in completely treated nanocubes. The Fe2+ deficiencies and structural defects appear to reduce the magnetic energy barrier and anisotropy field, thereby driving the overall relaxation into Neel process. The magnetic losses of these nanoparticles remain unchanged through a progressive internalization/association to ovarian cancer cells. Moreover, the particles induce a significant cell death after being exposed to hyperthermia treatment. Here, we present the largest heating performance that has been reported to date for 23 nm iron oxide nanoparticles under intracellular conditions. Our findings clearly demonstrate the positive impacts of the Fe2+ deficiencies and structural defects in the Fe3O4 structure on the heating performance into intracellular environment.