Two types of iron (Fe) nanoparticles, carbon-coated Fe nanoparticles (Fe(C)) and pure α-Fe nanoparticles that coated with oxide layers (Fe(O)), have been successfully synthesized using modified graphite arc-discharge method. X-ray diffraction (XRD), high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HREM) and electron diffraction (SAED) analysis have been used to characterize these distinct structural morphologies. It is indicated that those two Fe nanoparticles have an average grain size of 15-20nm. The presence of carbon encapsulated α-Fe, γ-Fe and Fe3C phases are clearly identified by X-ray diffraction and SAED patterns in those Fe(C) particles. However, the evidence of pure α-Fe nanocrystal coated with oxide layer is also revealed by HR-TEM images and SAED patterns in these Fe(O) particles.
Mössbauer spectra and hyperfine magnetic fields at room temperature for the assemblies of Fe(C) and Fe(O) nanoparticles further confirm their distinct nanophases that detected by XRD analysis and HRTEM observation. Specially, the assemblies of Fe(O) nanoparticles exhibit ferromagnetic properties at room temperature due to the stronger interparticle interaction and bigger magnetocrystalline anisotropy effects among these Fe(O) nanoparticles. Moreover, modified superparamagnetic relaxation is observed in the assemblies of Fe(C) nanoparticles, which is attributed to the nanocrystalline nature of the carbon-coated nanoparticles.