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Luz Martinez-Miranda: Properties of a nanocomposite consisting of a mixture of a liquid crystal and a magnetic nanoparticle, and their possible use in MRI

Professor at Department of Materials Science and Engineering

University of Maryland 

We study the properties of a nanocomposite consisting of a ferroelectric liquid crystal and a magnetic nanoparticle in order to explore the possibility of using it as a magnetic resonant imaging contrast agent which will measure a field of 20 V/m. To achieve this we investigate how varying the electric properties influence the magnetic properties of the mixture. The electric properties come from the liquid crystal whereas the magnetic properties come from the nanoparticles. These nanoparticles are nominally 2–3 nm in diameter and we vary their concentrations in the liquid crystal. We find that the 10.8 wt% sample give a better response of the liquid crystal to a small applied electric field. This concentration exhibits nanoparticle clusters contained inside droplets of about 5 − 10 μm in diameter. We estimate the value of the magnetic field inside a 7mm droplet if every nanoparticle is aligned with the electric field. In addition, we observe how the ordering in the droplets changes as a function of the increasing applied electric field and associate it with the magnetic field.