Carbon-coated FeCo nanoparticles as sensitive magnetic-particle-imaging tracers with photothermal and magnetothermal properties

Nat Biomed Eng. 2020 Mar;4(3):325-334. doi: 10.1038/s41551-019-0506-0. Epub 2020 Feb 3.


The low magnetic saturation of iron oxide nanoparticles, which are developed primarily as contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging, limits the sensitivity of their detection using magnetic particle imaging (MPI). Here, we show that FeCo nanoparticles that have a core diameter of 10 nm and bear a graphitic carbon shell decorated with poly(ethylene glycol) provide an MPI signal intensity that is sixfold and fifteenfold higher than the signals from the superparamagnetic iron oxide tracers VivoTrax and Feraheme, respectively, at the same molar concentration of iron. We also show that the nanoparticles have photothermal and magnetothermal properties and can therefore be used for tumour ablation in mice, and that they have high optical absorbance in a broad near-infrared region spectral range (wavelength, 700-1,200 nm), making them suitable as tracers for photoacoustic imaging. As sensitive multifunctional and multimodal imaging tracers, carbon-coated FeCo nanoparticles may confer advantages in cancer imaging and hyperthermia therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Carbon / chemistry*
  • Contrast Media / chemistry*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Ferric Compounds / chemistry*
  • Heterografts
  • Hyperthermia, Induced / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Magnetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Particle Size
  • Polyethylene Glycols


  • Contrast Media
  • Ferric Compounds
  • ferric oxide
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Carbon