Direct evidence for an interdiffused intermediate layer in bi-magnetic core–shell nanoparticles†
Core–shell nanoparticles attract continuously growing interest due to their numerous applications, which are driven by the possibility of tuning their functionalities by adjusting structural and morphological parameters. However, despite the critical role interdiffused interfaces may have in the properties, these are usually only estimated in indirect ways. Here we directly evidence the existence of a 1.1 nm thick (Fe,Mn)3O4 interdiffused intermediate shell in nominally γ-Fe2O3–Mn3O4 core–shell nanoparticles using resonant inelastic X-ray scattering spectroscopy combined with magnetic circular dichroism (RIXS-MCD). This recently developed magneto-spectroscopic probe exploits the unique advantages of hard X-rays (i.e., chemical selectivity, bulk sensitivity, and low self-absorption at the K pre-edge) and can be advantageously combined with transmission electron microscopy and electron energy loss spectroscopy to quantitatively elucidate the buried internal structure of complex objects. The detailed information on the structure of the nanoparticles allows understanding the influence of the interface quality on the magnetic properties.