Electronics Protection - Winter 2015 - (Page 4)
Tiny Magnets Mimic Steam, Water and Ice
Researchers at the Paul
Scherrer Institute (PSI) created
a synthetic material out of one
billion tiny magnets. Astonishingly, it now appears that the
magnetic properties of this
metamaterial change with the
temperature, so that it can
take on different states; just
like water has a gaseous, liquid
and a solid state. This material
made of nanomagnets might
well be refined for electronic applications of the future.
A synthetic material, created from ibe billion nanomagnets, assumes different aggregate states depending on the temperature. The metamaterial exhibits
phase transitions, much like those between steam, water and ice. This effect
was observed by a team of researchers headed by Laura Heyderman from PSI.
"We were surprised and excited," said Heyderman. "Only complex systems
are able to display phase transitions. And as complex systems can provide new
kinds of information transfer, the result of the new study also reveals that the
PSI researchers' metamaterial would be a potential candidate here."
The major advantage of the synthetic metamaterial is that it can be customized virtually freely. While the individual atoms in a natural material cannot be
rearranged with pinpoint precision on such a grand scale, the researchers say
that this is possible with the nanomagnets.
The magnets are 63 nanometers long and shaped roughly like grains of rice.
The researchers used a highly advanced technique to place one billion of these
tiny grains on a flat substrate to form a large-scale honeycomb pattern. The
nanomagnets covered a total area of five by five millimeters.
Thanks to a special measuring technique, the scientists initially studied the
collective magnetic behavior of their metamaterial at room temperature. Here
there was no order in the magnetic orientation, the magnetic north and south
poles pointed randomly in one direction or another.
When the researchers cooled the metamaterial gradually and constantly,
however, they reached a point where a higher order appeared. The tiny magnets now noticed each other more than before. As the temperature fell further,
there was another change towards an even higher order, in which the magnetic
arrangement appeared almost frozen. The long-range order of water molecules
increases in a similar way at the moment when water freezes into ice.
In the next step, the researchers might influence these magnetic phase transitions by altering the size, shape and arrangement of the nanomagnets. This
enables the creation of new states of matter, which could also give rise to applications. The beauty of it all, tailored phase transitions could enable metamaterials to be adapted specifically for different needs in future.
Besides its potential use in information transfer, the metamaterial might also
prove useful in data storage or for sensors that measure magnetic fields. Very
generally it could be used in spintronics, so in a promising future development
in electronics for novel computer technology.
The measurements the researchers used to reveal the magnetic orientation of the nanomagnets, and therefore the properties of the metamaterial,
can only be conducted exclusively at PSI. The equipment at the SμS, which
is unique worldwide, supplies beams from exotic elementary particles called
muons, which can be used to study nanomagnetic properties. The project took
place in collaboration with a research group headed by Stephen Lee from the
University of St Andrews, Scotland.
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Electronics Protection - Winter 2015
Electronics Protection - Winter 2015
Thick Print Copper Technology Increases Thermal Reliability
Slashing Printed Circuit Board Design Cycle Time Using Real-Time PCB Thermal Analysis Tools
Thermal Management of Electronic Devices Utilizing LHS Materials
Calendar of Events
Electronics Protection - Winter 2015