Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

First Advisor

Dr. Everett Carpenter


Permanent magnets are classified as hard magnetic materials with the main purpose of generating flux for applications such as electric motors, turbines, and hard drives. High coercivity, magnetic remanence, and saturation values with high stability are some of the requirements for permanent magnets. Rare-earth magnets including neodymium and samarium based magnets are known to have superior magnetic properties due to their high magnetocrystalline anisotropy. However, due to the price of rare-earth materials development of alternate permanent magnets composed of inexpensive materials is an ongoing process. Previously cobalt carbide (CoxC) have shown promise as a potential rare-earth free magnet alternative with magnetic properties comparable to that of hexaferrite materials. Unfortunately, CoxC magnets have a low magnetic saturation (50 emu g-1) which drastically lowers its energy product. Alternatively, iron carbide has a rather high bulk magnetization value of 140 emu g-1 and is composed of naturally abundant materials. The sole issue of iron carbide is that it is considered an intermediate magnet with properties between those of a hard and a soft magnetic material.

The main focus of this work is the enhancement of the hard magnetic properties of iron carbide through size effect, shape anisotropy, magnetocrystalline anisotropy and exchange anisotropy. First a wet synthesis method was developed which utilized hexadecyltrimethylammonium chloride to control particle size, shape, and crystal structure to manipulate the magnetic properties of iron carbide. With this method a semi-hard 50 nm orthorhombic Fe3C phase and a magnetically soft single crystal hexagonal Fe7C3 structure with texture-induced magnetic properties were developed. The properties for both materials were further enhanced through formation of exchange bias Fe3C/CoO nanoaggregates and spring exchange coupling of the ferromagnetically hard and soft phases of Fe7C3/SrFe12O19. A 33% increase in coercivity was observed at room temperature for the antiferro/ferromagnetic Fe3C/CoO in comparison to the bare Fe3C. While iron carbide enhanced the magnetic saturation and remanence of strontium ferrite. This work concludes that with further development of iron carbide nanocomposites they may be employed as future alternative permanent magnets.


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