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).
Better battery imaging paves way for renewable energy future
21.04.2015 | University of Wisconsin-Madison
How to maximize the superconducting critical temperature in a molecular superconductor
20.04.2015 | Tohoku University
Max Planck researcher Buhalqem Mamtimin determines how much nitrogen oxide is released into the atmosphere from agriculturally used oases.
In order to make statements about current and future air pollution, scientists use models which simulate the Earth’s atmosphere. A lot of information such as...
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and the University of Konstanz are working on storing and processing information on the level of single molecules to create the smallest possible components that will combine autonomously to form a circuit. As recently reported in the academic journal Advanced Science, the researchers can switch on the current flow through a single molecule for the first time with the help of light.
Dr. Artur Erbe, physicist at the HZDR, is convinced that in the future molecular electronics will open the door for novel and increasingly smaller – while also...
Cells of the vascular system of vertebrates can fuse with themselves. This process, which occurs when a blood vessel is no longer necessary and pruned, has now been described on the cellular level by Prof. Markus Affolter from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel. The findings of this study have been published in the journal “PLoS Biology”.
The vascular system is the supply network of the human organism and delivers oxygen and nutrients to the last corners of the body. So far, research on the...
Astronomers from Chalmers University of Technology have used the giant telescope Alma to reveal an extremely powerful magnetic field very close to a supermassive black hole in a distant galaxy
Astronomers from Chalmers University of Technology have used the giant telescope Alma to reveal an extremely powerful magnetic field very close to a...
A team of physicists from MPQ, Caltech, and ICFO proposes the combination of nano-photonics with ultracold atoms for simulating quantum many-body systems and creating new states of matter.
Ultracold atoms in the so-called optical lattices, that are generated by crosswise superposition of laser beams, have been proven to be one of the most...
13.04.2015 | Event News
25.03.2015 | Event News
19.03.2015 | Event News
21.04.2015 | Materials Sciences
21.04.2015 | Earth Sciences
21.04.2015 | Studies and Analyses