Magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) are also extensively used in biomedical separation technologies and for imaging. Rapid magnetic point-of-care (POC) diagnostics that enable specific cellular and molecular detection are currently being developed. A unique feature of MNPs is the paramagnetic behavior of an ensemble of MNPs, termed superparamagnetism. MNP-labeled biological targets, once collected by external magnets, can be released by removing the external fields. The elemental iron-based MNPs are especially attractive, owing to their high saturation magnetization value well as biocompatibility originating from the nontoxic nature of iron. The physical properties of MNPs can be measured using conventional material characterization tools. When measurements are performed on large number of MNPs, the acquired data should be interpreted as a size-weighted ensemble average. The use of covalent linkages has been the primary method of choice for introducing targeting molecules to MNPs. Covalent bonds can be formed between functional groups such as amine, carboxylic acid, and sulfhydryl, at the MNP surface and targeting molecules.
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