Magnetics Business & Technology - Spring 2013 - (Page 18)
MAGNETS • MATERIALS • MEASUREMENT
VCU Receives NSF I-Corps Grant to Advance Work
On Permanent Magnets
A VCU research team, led by Everett Carpenter Ph.D., associate professor of inorganic and materials chemistry and affiliate professor of chemical and life science engineering in the
VCU College of Humanities and Sciences, has been selected to
participate in the inaugural I-Corp at ARPA-E program to help
academic scientists expand their focus in ways to transition technology from basic research to commercial applications. ARPA-E
is the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects
The program is part of the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps Team program (NSF I-Corps Teams) and will focus
on developing new rare-earth free permanent magnets for energy
efficient electric car motors or wind generators.
The I-Corps Team program was designed to help scientists and
engineers to not only develop and nurture fundamental research,
but also to translate it into technologies, products and processes
that may ultimately benefit society. The grant will provide the
team with access to resources to help determine the readiness to
transition the technology.
Carpenter, who is
also director of VCU
NANOCenter, is joined
by Daniel Hudgins, a
student in his research
group, and Vincent G.
Harris, founder and
chair of Metamagnetics,
Inc. The team is called
serves as principal investigator and Hudgins the entrepreneurial
lead, and Harris will serve as the entrepreneurial mentor.
“This is an extremely prestigious award which will help add
credibility to our team if and when we decide to create a spinoff company,” said Carpenter. “The program will help us connect
with other teams and learn from their successes and failures. In
addition, it will help us to connect with potential funding groups
to further advance our goal of a spin-off company.”
The VCU project was sparked by a push for more energy-efficient and green-powered technologies. Materials scientists are
particularly interested in creating permanent magnets that can
perform equivalent to the best commercial magnets, and are less
expensive than what is available on the market, without relying
on rare earth elements. Rare earth elements are difficult and costly to process and refine the metal.
The goal of the three-year project is to use the magnetic carbide-based composite, which looks like a fine black powder, to
develop a magnet for use in a prototype electric motor. The transition metal carbide nanomagnets, which require no rare earth elements, are being developed by Carpenter and his team.
According to Carpenter, the program, if successful, would result
in the first commercially viable rare-earth free magnet in nearly
Magnetics Business & Technology • Spring 2013
Recently, the team became one of 14 projects to be funded
through ARPA-E’s Rare Earth Alternatives in Critical Technologies program, or REACT. The REACT program is focused on
the development of alternatives to rare earth elements, which are
minerals that occur naturally in the environment, for use in technologies such as electric motor and generator applications.
For Newly Discovered ‘Quantum Spin Liquid’, the
Beauty is in its Simplicity
A research team including scientists from the National Institute
of Standards and Technology (NIST) has confirmed long-standing suspicions among physicists that electrons in a crystalline
structure called a kagome (kah-go-may) lattice can form a “spin
liquid,” a novel quantum state of matter in which the electrons’
magnetic orientation remains in a constant state of change.
The research shows that a spin liquid state exists in Herbertsmithite, a mineral whose atoms form a kagome lattice, named for
a simple weaving pattern of repeating triangles well-known in
Japan. Kagome lattices are one of the simplest structures believed
to possess a spin liquid state, and the new findings, revealed by
neutron scattering, indeed show striking evidence for a fundamental prediction of spin liquid physics.
Generally, magnetism results from the magnetic moment, also
called spin, of electrons within atoms. Rather than aligning in
a stable, repetitive up-down pattern as they do in most magnetic solids at low temperatures, the electrons in a spin liquid are
frustrated by mutual interactions from settling into a permanent
alignment, so the electron spins constantly change direction, even
at temperatures close to absolute zero.
Named after a mineralogist, Herbertsmithite was proposed
to be a quantum spin liquid by Daniel Nocera and Young Lee
of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2007.
Herbertsmithite has a peculiar crystal structure in which its
copper atoms lie at the corners of triangles with interactions
that favor having the up-down alignment pattern of electronic
spins on each corner. However, while electrons on two of the
corners of a triangle can align, one up and one down, their
alignment produces a quandary for the electron on the third
This image depicts magnetic effects within Herbertsmithite crystals, where
green regions represent higher scattering of neutrons from NIST’s MultiAngle Crystal Spectrometer (MACS). Scans of typical highly-ordered magnetic materials show only isolated spots of green, while disordered materials
show uniform color over the entire sample. The in-between nature of this
data shows some order within the disorder, implying the unusual magnetic
effects within a spin liquid. Credit: NIST
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Magnetics Business & Technology - Spring 2013
Magnetics Business & Technology - Spring 2013
Dysprosium-Free Rare Earth Magnets for High Temperature Applications
Research & Development
Simulating the Toyota Prius Electric Motor
Magnets • Materials • Measurement
Application • Component Developments
Spontaneous Thoughts: Dysprosium 2.0
Magnetics Business & Technology - Spring 2013