Magnetophoresis of superparamagnetic nanoparticles at low field gradient: hydrodynamic effect†
Convective current driven by momentum transfer between magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) and their surrounding fluid during magnetophoresis process under a low gradient magnetic field (<100 T m−1) is presented. This magnetophoresis induced convective flow, which imposed direct hydrodynamic effects onto the separation kinetics of the MNPs under low gradient magnetic separation (LGMS), is analogous to the natural convection found in heat transportation. Herein, we show the significance of the induced convection in controlling the transport behavior of MNPs, even at a very low particle concentration of 5 mg L−1, and this feature can be characterized by the newly defined magnetic Grashof number. By incorporating fluid flow equations into the existing magnetophoresis model, we reveal two unique features of this convective flow associated with low gradient magnetophoresis, namely, (1) the continuous homogenization of the MNPs solution and (2) accompanying sweeping flow that accelerates the collection of MNPs. According to both simulation and experimental data, the induced convection boosts the magnetophoretic capture of MNPs by approximately 30 times compared to the situation with no convection.