Project funded by Marie Curie Actions IEF. Project 235673 "Study of magnetic responsive biopolymer based materials"



The Marie Curie Action MAGBIOMAT aimed to elaborate and to characterize the structural and mechanical properties of new nanostructured magneto-responsive biopolymer-based materials.

To achieve these goals, functionalized magnetic nanoparticles were synthesized and introduced in aqueous alginate sodium networks.

The mechanical properties of these magnetic sensitive nanocomposites materials were then investigated by a new magnetorheological cell built up especially for the project.

Description of the work carried out in the project

On a first stage, the magnetic particles were synthesized by a co-precipitation method and then stabilized by adsorption of sodium citrate ions. After that, the complete characterisation of the obtained ferrofluids was carried out. In the same way, the preparation and characterisation of alginate solutions at different concentrations was performed.

In order to analyse and to optimise the preparation of alginate and ferrofluids solutions, several samples with different alginate concentrations and ferrofluid volume fractions were prepared. The stability of these samples was examined by means of microscopic and macroscopic observations. The rheological behaviour was also studied using flow and oscillatory shear measurements. In order to analyse the effect of the magnetic field in the mechanical properties of the materials, the development and adjustment of a magnetic cell that allows the application of an external continuous magnetic field over the sample during the rheological measurements were performed.

To prepare the alginate gel and the alginate and ferrofluid ferrogels, the internal gelling method was chosen. Gels and ferrogels with different concentrations of alginate, volume fractions of ferrofluid and ratios between calcium and sodium ions concentrations were obtained. The gelation time and the mechanical properties of gel and ferrogel in the absence of magnetic field and when an external magnetic field was applied were studied.

Potential impact and use

MAGBIOMAT has shown the possibility to form self-assembly supramolecular morphologies by means of biopolymers and magnetic nanoparticles, which can be controlled using external magnetic fields. Especially, the modulation of the mechanical properties by continuous magnetic fields that we observed and studied in this work will enable the use of these materials in microfluidics, pharmaceutical or medical applications. In particular, one of the most important applications could be the controlled delivery of biological molecules where the nanocomposites play the role of biocompatible dynamic vectors. The magnetic nanoparticles embedded in the polymer network could be functionalized with therapeutic and imaging agents. The polymeric matrixes allow the dispersion of these functionalized nanoparticles, enhance their stability, chemical functionality and biocompatibility. The behaviour shown in this project for this kind of materials opens the possibility to their use as delivery systems capable of protecting, transporting, and selectively depositing therapeutic agents to desired sites. The use of superparamagnetic composites with polymeric networks for the delivery of biocompounds allows the system to be easily localized using an external magnetic field and controlled release may be achieved.

On the other hand, the development and adjustment of the magnetic cell allowed the opportunity of applying magnetic field during the rheological measuremnts of different kinds of magnetic materials, without interfering in the normal operation of the rheometer.