A gadolinium-based material that can be cooled by varying a magnetic field may be useful for cooling low-temperature sensors.
Magnetic refrigeration is attracting attention as an efficient way to chill sensitive scientific instruments. This refrigeration method exploits the magnetocaloric effect, in which an external magnetic field controls the temperature of a magnetic material.
Effective magnetic refrigerants are often difficult to prepare, but now Andy Hor of the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering and the National University of Singapore and his colleagues have created a powerful magnetic refrigerant that is easy to make in the lab .
Compounds with a large magnetocaloric effect typically contain atoms with many unpaired electrons, each of which generates its own tiny magnetic moment. During magnetic refrigeration, an external magnetic field forces these atomic magnetic moments to line up in the same direction. As the magnetism of the atoms becomes more ordered (which reduces the entropy of the system), the material’s temperature rises.
Once the heat has been removed by a flowing liquid or gas, the external magnetic field is reduced. This allows the atomic magnetic moments to become disordered again, cooling the material so that it can be used to draw heat from an instrument, before repeating the cycle.
Magnetic refrigerants commonly use the gadolinium(III) ion (Gd3+), because it has seven unpaired electrons. Most gadolinium complexes are made under harsh conditions or take a very long time to form, which limits their wider application. In contrast, the magnetic refrigerant developed by Hor and colleagues is remarkably easy to make.
The researchers simply mixed gadolinium acetate, nickel acetate and an organic molecule called 2-(hydroxymethyl)pyridine in an organic solvent at room temperature. After 12 hours, these chemicals had assembled themselves into an aggregate containing a cube-like structure of atoms at its heart (see image).
The team measured how an external magnetic field affected this ‘cubane’ material as the temperature dropped. Below about 50 K, they found that the material’s magnetization increased sharply, suggesting that it could be an effective magnetic refrigerant below this temperature.
The scientists then tested the effects of varying the external magnetic field at very low temperatures. They found that at 4.5 K, a large external field caused an entropy change that was close to the theoretical maximum for the system — and larger than most other magnetic refrigerants under similar conditions.
According to the team, the magnetocaloric effect of magnetic refrigerants has typically been enhanced by creating ever-larger clusters of metal atoms. In contrast, their cubane shows that much simpler aggregates, prepared under straightforward conditions, are promising as magnetic refrigerants.
1. Wang, P., Shannigrahi, S., Yakovlev, N. L., and Hor, T. S. A. Facile self-assembly of intermetallic [Ni2Gd2] cubane aggregate for magnetic refrigeration. Chemistry – An Asian Journal 8, 2943–2946 (2013).
Spin glass physics with trapped ions
30.05.2016 | ICFO-The Institute of Photonic Sciences
3-D model reveals how invisible waves move materials within aquatic ecosystems
30.05.2016 | University of Waterloo
Physicists of the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich in collaboration with scientists from the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg have observed a light-matter phenomenon in nano-optics, which lasts only attoseconds.
The interaction between light and matter is of key importance in nature, the most prominent example being photosynthesis. Light-matter interactions have also...
A biological and energy-efficient process, developed and patented by the University of Innsbruck, converts nitrogen compounds in wastewater treatment facilities into harmless atmospheric nitrogen gas. This innovative technology is now being refined and marketed jointly with the United States’ DC Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water). The largest DEMON®-system in a wastewater treatment plant is currently being built in Washington, DC.
The DEMON®-system was developed and patented by the University of Innsbruck 11 years ago. Today this successful technology has been implemented in about 70...
Permanent magnets are very important for technologies of the future like electromobility and renewable energy, and rare earth elements (REE) are necessary for their manufacture. The Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Freiburg, Germany, has now succeeded in identifying promising approaches and materials for new permanent magnets through use of an in-house simulation process based on high-throughput screening (HTS). The team was able to improve magnetic properties this way and at the same time replaced REE with elements that are less expensive and readily available. The results were published in the online technical journal “Scientific Reports”.
The starting point for IWM researchers Wolfgang Körner, Georg Krugel, and Christian Elsässer was a neodymium-iron-nitrogen compound based on a type of...
In the Beyond EUV project, the Fraunhofer Institutes for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen and for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena are developing key technologies for the manufacture of a new generation of microchips using EUV radiation at a wavelength of 6.7 nm. The resulting structures are barely thicker than single atoms, and they make it possible to produce extremely integrated circuits for such items as wearables or mind-controlled prosthetic limbs.
In 1965 Gordon Moore formulated the law that came to be named after him, which states that the complexity of integrated circuits doubles every one to two...
Characterization of high-quality material reveals important details relevant to next generation nanoelectronic devices
Quantum mechanics is the field of physics governing the behavior of things on atomic scales, where things work very differently from our everyday world.
24.05.2016 | Event News
20.05.2016 | Event News
19.05.2016 | Event News
31.05.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
31.05.2016 | Life Sciences
31.05.2016 | Information Technology