Three-dimensional colloidal crystals made of ferromagnetic particles, such as magnetite (Fe3O4), cannot be synthesized in principle because of the strong attractive magnetic interaction. However, we discovered colloidal crystals composed of polyhedral magnetite nanocrystallites of uniform size in the range of a few hundred nanometers in the Tagish Lake meteorite. Those colloidal crystals were formed 4.6 billion years ago and thus are much older than natural colloidal crystals on earth, such as opals, which formed about 100 million years ago.(1)We found that the size of each individual magnetite particle determines its morphology, which in turn plays an important role in deciding the packing structure of the colloidal crystals. We also hypothesize that each particle has a flux-closed magnetic domain structure, which reduces the interparticle magnetic force significantly.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry