Detection of endogenous magnetic nanoparticles with a tunnelling magneto resistance sensor

A. Ionescu, N. J. Darton, K. Vyas, J. Llandro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The magnetotactic bacterium Magnetospirillum sp. has been cultured and the properties of its endogenous magnetic nanoparticles characterized. Electron-microscopic analyses indicate that the endogenous magnetite nanoparticles in Magnetospirillum sp. are coated with a 3-4 nm thick transparent shell, forming a magnetosome. These magnetite nanoparticles had diameters of 50.9 ± 13.3 nm, in good agreement with the diameter of 40.6 ± 1.2 nm extracted from magnetometry. Each Magnetospirillum sp. bacterium contained chains of 5-25 magnetosomes. Superconducting quantum interference device magnetometry results indicate that the extrinsic superparamagnetic response of the bacterial solution at room temperature can be attributed to the reversal of the magnetization by physical rotation of the nanoparticles. The intrinsic blocking temperature of a sample of freeze-dried bacteria was estimated to be 282 ± 13K. A tunnelling magneto resistance sensor was used to detect the stray fields of endogenous magnetic nanoparticles in static and quasi-dynamic modes. Based on the tunnelling magneto resistance sensor results, the magnetic moment per bacterium was estimated to be approximately 2.6 × 10-13 emu. The feasibility of this detection method either as a mass-coverage device or as part of an integrated microfluidic circuit for detection and sorting of magnetosome-containing cells was demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4371-4387
Number of pages17
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number1927
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Sep 28
Externally publishedYes


  • Blocking temperature
  • Endogenous nanoparticles
  • Magneto-resistance sensing
  • Magnetospirillum sp.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematics(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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