Tracer development


© Olaf Malzahn | Uni Lübeck

Tracers are widely used in various clinically available diagnostic and therapy applications. Fraunhofer IMTE focuses on tracer material based on superparamagnetic iron-oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) which have highly biocompatible properties and are thus very promising candidates for biomedical applications - tracers are the most integral part of Magnetic Particle Imaging (MPI). When functionalized, tracers can be useful in both diagnostic as well as therapeutic applications, such as hyperthermia, cell labelling or drug delivery. They can also be used for construction of medical catheters and micro-machines that allow visualization, and even manipulation, in an MPI scanner. Fraunhofer IMTE works on the synthesis of SPIONs for various applications such as MPI, hyperthermia and cell labeling.

Fields of research

Nucleation and Growth Characterization of SPION

Fraunhofer IMTE has expertise in the development of devices for characterizing the magnetic properties of the synthesized SPIONs referred to as magnetic particle spectrometer (MPS). Furthermore, Fraunhofer IMTE works on development of devices for tracking the nucleation and growth of the SPIONs undergoing synthesis via conventional or in-continous flow setups (in real-time) by measuring the change in the magnetic moment of the SPIONs.

Functionalization of SPIONs

Different approaches for functionalization of SPIONs are currently being investigated at IMTE, which includes coupling of flourescent dyes to enable tracking of the diffusion path of SPIONs through metabolic pathways. Furthermore, the particle surface can be coated, functionalized or conjugated with biomolecules for various medical and biological applications.


  • Synthesis of SPIONs for different diagnostic and therapeutic applications 
  • Development of devices for characterizing the magnetic properties of SPIONs 
  • Development of devices for tracking the nucleation and growth of MNPs     
  • Automated Continuous Flow Synthesis setup for large scale production of SPIONs
  • Functionalization of SPIONs 
  • Development of SPIONs as or used for Drug-Delivery- and Controlled-released-Systems


  • Zetasizer Nano ZS (Malvern Panalytical)
  • UV-1800 Spectrophotometer (Shimadzu Schweiz GmbH)
  • Vibrating Sample Magnetometer (Lake Shore Crytonics 8600 Series)
  • Atomic Force Microscope (DualScope Scanner DS 95-200)
  • Ultrasound Synthesis (Anton Paar)
  • In-house designed and developed 1-D, 2-D and 3-D Magnetic Particle Spectrometer (MPS)
  • In-house designed and developed  INSPECT for tracking nucleation and growth