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Electrical and magnetic properties of ferritin: electron transport phenomena and electron paramagnetic resonance

Ferritin is a spherical metalloprotein, capable of storing and releasing iron in a controllable way. It is composed of a protein shell of about 12 nm and within its cavity, iron is stored in a mineral form.

J.A. Labra Muñoz
26 september 2023
Thesis in Leiden Repository

The ferritin core resembles an iron-based nanoparticle that is isolated from the environment by the ferritin shell, which makes ferritin an attractive element to be used in the fabrication of bioelectronic devices. Another intriguing aspect of ferritin is its potential relation to neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The relation is not yet well understood, but the studies indicate that dysfunctional ferritin appears to play an important role. This dissertation aims to characterize ferritin electrically and magnetically. First, the electrical properties of single ferritin are explored to understand the charge transport through ferritin, and additionally, the first ferritin single-electron transistor is obtained. Second, the magnetic properties of multiple ferritin particles are studied by electron paramagnetic resonance, which supplies information about the ferritin core. A model of the electron-spin structure of the ferritin core is proposed and extended to the ferritin signal from post-mortem brain tissues.

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