In-depth investigations of size and occupancies in cobalt ferrite nanoparticles by joint Rietveld refinements of X-ray and neutron powder diffraction data

Killian Henry, Jakob Voldum Ahlburg, Henrik L. Andersen, Cecilia Granados-Miralles, Marian Stingaciu, Matilde Saura-Muzquiz, Mogens Christensen

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Powder X-ray diffraction (PXRD) and neutron powder diffraction (NPD) have been used to investigate the crystal structure of CoFe2O4 nanoparticles prepared via different hydrothermal synthesis routes, with particular attention given to accurately determining the spinel inversion degrees. The study is divided into four parts. In the first part, the investigations focus on the influence of using different diffraction pattern combinations (NPD, Cu-source PXRD and Cosource PXRD) for the structural modelling. It is found that combining PXRD data from a Co source with NPD data offers a robust structural model. The second part of the study evaluates the reproducibility of the employed multipattern Rietveld refinement procedure using different data sets collected on the same sample, as well as on equivalently prepared samples. The refinement procedure gives reproducible results and reveals that the synthesis method is likewise reproducible since only minor differences are noted between the samples. The third part focuses on the structural consequences of (i) the employed heating rate (achieved using three different hydrothermal reactor types) and (ii) changing the cobalt salt in the precursors [aqueous salt solutions of Co(CH3COOH)(2), Co(NO3) (2) and CoCl2] in the synthesis. It is found that increasing the heating rate causes a change in the crystal structure (unit cell and crystallite sizes) while the Co/Fe occupancy and magnetic parameters remain similar in all cases. Also, changing the type of cobalt salt does not alter the final crystal/magnetic structure of the CoFe2O4 nanoparticles. The last part of this study is a consideration of the chemicals and parameters used in the synthesis of the different samples. All the presented samples exhibit a similar crystal and magnetic structure, with only minor deviations. It is also evident that the refinement method used played a key role in the description of the sample.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Crystallography
IssuePart 5
Pages (from-to)1336-1350
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • neutron powder diffraction
  • X-ray powder diffraction
  • resonance scattering
  • spinel ferrites
  • magnetism
  • FECO2O4


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