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Zainab Hussein

Thin-Film Sensors for Magnetic Nanoparticle Hyperthermia Cancer Therapy

Department: Electrical and Computer Engineering
Advisor: Dr. Zoe Boekelheide

Magnetic nanoparticle hyperthermia is a promising cancer treatment in which magnetic nanoparticles are injected into a tumor and then exposed to an alternating magnetic field (AMF). The generally accepted explanation for its effectiveness is that rapid switching of the particles’ magnetization releases heat, damaging tumor cells. However, the exact mechanisms by which heat is produced and dissipated are unclear.[1,2] Mechanisms other than heating, such as mechanical effects of moving or rotating particles, may also contribute to cell damage.[3] The nature of these possible thermal and mechanical mechanisms needs further study.

In order to probe the behavior of nanoparticles in an AMF, accurate sensors are required. Currently, optical rather than electronic sensors are typically used to avoid eddy current heating in conducting parts in the AMF.[1,4] However, electronic measurements are possible in an AMF within certain constraints. Eddy current heating is strongly dependent on the size and geometry of the conducting part, thus micro- or nano-scale electronics are a promising possibility for exploring the behavior of nanoparticles in an AMF.

A comparison of temperature increase of thin wires (thermocouples) and patterned thin films (resistive thermometers) in an AMF to test the size limits of accurate electronic temperature Measurements was done. A thin film resistive thermometer shows a large temperature increase when placed perpendicular to the AMF and a smaller increase when placed parallel. Future work will focus on scaling the thin film sensors to further reduce heating. Thin (40 gauge) K and T type thermocouples both show a significant temperature increase, while the E type thermocouple shows no temperature increase compared to the background heating. In conclusion, electronic measurements in an AMF are feasible with appropriate material properties and sizes, and are a promising possibility for future investigations into the mechanisms underlying magnetic nanoparticle hyperthermia.


  1. L. Polo-Corralles a nd C. Rinaldi, J. Appl. Phys. 111 , 07B334 (2012)
  2. Y . Rabin, Int. J. Hyperthermia 18 , 194 (2002)
  3. L. Asin, Pharm. Res. 29 , 1319 (2012)
  4. C. L. Dennis, Nanotechnology 20 , 395103 (2009)

About Zainab Hussein:
Zainab Hussein is a senior engineering student at Lafayette College, majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a French minor. Her main interests are sensors and magnetic nanoparticle characterization for nano-application, control and microwave systems and linguistics. She co-authored a publication in IEEE Magnetic transactions under Professor Zoe Boekelheide. Zainab is president of McKelvy Scholar Program, member of APS, IEEE and Percussion Ensemble. After graduation, she plans to pursue an M.S in nano-application control or microwave systems.