Researchers from the Physics Department at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), the Institut de Ciènca de Materials de Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC), and the Universidad de Zaragoza have created a new ultra-light transparent magnetic material. Thanks to its properties, the new material could have interesting technological applications, such as creating new types of flat screens and magneto-optical memory devices for computers.
The researchers have obtained the new ultra-light magnets by combining silica aerogel (aerogels are extremely light solid materials, and are so porous that they’re made up of 99% air) with extremely fine magnetic particles composed of neodymium, iron and boron (Nd2Fe14B). These were orientated through a magnetic field during the synthesis. The new material retains the transparent and light properties of the aerogel, as well as the magnetic properties of the chemical composition. The magnets obtained by the researchers in the laboratory have a cylindrical shape about 1cm in diameter and several centimetres in length.
Until now, all aerogels with magnetic properties created in other laboratories were too “soft”, from a magnetic point of view, for storing information, and this closed all windows of opportunity on many technological applications. A weak external magnetic field could easily erase any information stored.
Octavi López Coronado | alfa
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The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
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