Scalable synthesis of dispersible iron carbide (Fe3C) nanoparticles by ‘nanocasting’

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • W. Xia
  • G. J. Smales
  • B. R. Pauw
  • A. Kulak
  • Huolin Xin

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Center for Functional Nanomaterials
  • Leeds Institute of Cancer & Pathology, Univeristy of Leeds, Leeds, UK.
  • 1] Developmental and Cell Biology, University of California, Irvine, California 92697, USA [2] Center for Complex Biological Systems, University of California, Irvine, California 92697, USA.
  • Berlin 12205
  • Leeds Institute of Health Sciences and NIHR Diagnostic Evidence Co-operative Leeds, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.
  • Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und prüfung (BAM)
  • School of Physical and Geographical Sciences
  • Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry; Pharmaceutical SciencesUniversity of California Irvine Irvine California


Metal carbides have shown great promise in a wide range of applications due to their unique catalytic, electrocatalytic and magnetic properties. However, the scalable production of dispersible metal carbide nanoparticles remains a challenge. Here, we report a simple and scalable route to dispersible iron carbide (Fe 3C) nanoparticles. This uses MgO nanoparticles as a removable 'cast' to synthesize Fe 3C nanoparticles from Prussian blue (KFe III[Fe II(CN) 6]). Electron tomography demonstrates how nanoparticles of the MgO cast encase the Fe 3C nanoparticles to prevent sintering and agglomeration during the higherature synthesis. The MgO cast is readily removed with ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) to generate Fe 3C nanoparticles that can be used to produce a colloidal ferrofluid or dispersed on a support material.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19506-19512
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Materials Chemistry A
Issue number33
Early online date5 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sep 2019