Applied Physics A

, 125:805 | Cite as

Thermal decomposition of ferritin core

  • Navneet Kaur
  • S. D. TiwariEmail author


Ferritin is an iron storage protein found in living organisms. It is an antiferromagnetic nanoparticle system consisting of an inorganic core surrounded by a protein shell. Ferritin is characterized by X-ray diffractometer, transmission electron microscope, atomic absorption spectrometer and thermogravimetric analyzer. We find that the ferritin core is poorly crystalline, 8 nm in size and consists of 10 wt% iron. It is believed that cores of ferritin consist of single-phase inorganic mineral ferrihydrite. Recently, we have shown that ferrihydrite decomposes directly to \(\alpha\)-\(\hbox {Fe}_{{2}}\hbox {O}_{3}\) on heating in air at 440 \(^{\circ }\)C. In the present work, we show that ferritin cores gradually decompose to a mixture of \(\gamma\)-\(\hbox {Fe}_{{2}}\hbox {O}_{{3}}\) and \(\alpha\)-\(\hbox {Fe}_{{2}}\hbox {O}_{{3}}\) on heating in air. This mixture finally stabilizes to \(\alpha\)-\(\hbox {Fe}_{{2}}\hbox {O}_{{3}}\) on further heating. The magnetic behaviour of final sample is also studied. This work confirms that the ferritin cores contain more than one phase.



Financial support from University Grant Commission, India is thankfully acknowledged [Project Reference No. 39-537/2010(SR)].


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Physics and Materials ScienceThapar Institute of Engineering and TechnologyPatialaIndia

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