Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rare-earth-like magnetic properties in iron

Date:
April 28, 2014
Source:
DOE/Ames Laboratory
Summary:
Scientists have observed magnetic properties typically associated with those observed in rare-earth elements in iron. These properties are observed in a new iron based compound that does not contain rare earth elements, when the iron atom is positioned between two nitrogen atoms. The discovery opens the possibility of using iron to provide both the magnetism and permanence in high-strength permanent magnets, like those used in direct-drive wind turbines or electric motors in hybrid cars.

A single crystal of lithium-iron nitride. Scientists at Ames Laboratory observed magnetic properties in iron-ions in these lithium-iron nitrides that are typically associated with rare-earth elements.
Credit: Image courtesy of DOE/Ames Laboratory

Scientists at the Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory have observed magnetic properties typically associated with those observed in rare-earth elements in iron. These properties are observed in a new iron based compound that does not contain rare earth elements, when the iron atom is positioned between two nitrogen atoms. The discovery opens the possibility of using iron to provide both the magnetism and permanence in high-strength permanent magnets, like those used in direct-drive wind turbines or electric motors in hybrid cars. The results appeared in Nature Communications.

Related Articles


In modern magnets, iron gives most magnets their strength, and comes with the benefits of being abundant and cheap. But the magnet recipe must also include rare earth elements, which lend magnets "permanence," or the ability to keep the direction of the magnetic field fixed (also called anisotropy). The challenge is rare-earths materials are expensive and at risk of domestic supply shortages. So, ideal next-generation permanent magnets will rely more heavily on iron or other abundant materials and less on rare earths.

"The breakthrough here is that we see magnetic anisotropy normally associated with rare earths ions in iron," said Paul Canfield, Ames Laboratory physicist. "This isn't an industrial breakthrough at this point because these magnetic properties only reveal themselves at cryogenic temperatures. But, it's a basic science breakthrough that hopefully will point the way to future technical breakthroughs."

Canfield's research group is internationally known for expertise in design, discovery, growth and characterization of new and promising materials. In this effort, Canfield and his colleagues, including postdoctoral research associate Anton Jesche, designed a new technique to grow lithium-iron-nitride single crystals from a lithium-nitrogen solution.

"Using nitrogen in solution growth had not yet been well explored because, since we typically think of nitrogen as a gas, it's challenging to get into a solution" said Jesche, "But we found that lithium -- lightest solid element -- looked like it could hold nitrogen in solution. So, we mixed together lithium and lithium-nitride powder, and it worked. It created a solution."

Then the group added in iron and, to their surprise, the iron dissolved.

"Usually iron and lithium don't mix," said Canfield, who is also a Distinguished Professor of physics and astronomy at Iowa State University. "It seems adding nitrogen to the lithium in the solution allows iron to go in."

The resulting single crystals of iron-substituted lithium nitride yielded even more surprises: the opposing external field required to reverse magnetization was more than 11 tesla, as much as an order of magnitude larger than that of commercially available permanent magnets and two or more orders of magnitude larger than is typically found in single crystals. Further evidence of iron's exotic state in this compound is the field-induced quantum tunneling found for very diluted iron concentrations at the relatively high temperature of 10 Kelvin, a temperature orders of magnitude higher than what had been seen before.

"With detailed measurements, we saw that these single iron ions are indeed behaving like a single rare-earth ion would," Canfield continued. "And we believe this has to do with the special, fairly simple, geometry that the iron finds itself in: one iron atom positioned between two nitrogen atoms. We hope this crystal growing technique and this specific material can be a model system for further theoretical study of these rare-earth-like iron ions. As it stands, these materials have clear implications on finding rare-earth-free replacements for permanent magnets -- and perhaps also may impact data storage and manipulation in quantum computer applications."

The research is funded by the DOE's Office of Science.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by DOE/Ames Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. A. Jesche, R.W. McCallum, S. Thimmaiah, J.L. Jacobs, V. Taufour, A. Kreyssig, R.S. Houk, S.L. Bud’ko, P.C. Canfield. Giant magnetic anisotropy and tunnelling of the magnetization in Li2(Li1−xFex)N. Nature Communications, 2014; 5 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms4333

Cite This Page:

DOE/Ames Laboratory. "Rare-earth-like magnetic properties in iron." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140428121439.htm>.
DOE/Ames Laboratory. (2014, April 28). Rare-earth-like magnetic properties in iron. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140428121439.htm
DOE/Ames Laboratory. "Rare-earth-like magnetic properties in iron." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140428121439.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

3D Printed Cookies Just in Time for Christmas

3D Printed Cookies Just in Time for Christmas

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) A tech company in Spain have combined technology with cuisine to develop the 'Foodini', a 3D printer designed to print the perfect cookie for Santa. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Sony Hopes To Make Any Glasses 'Smart'

How Sony Hopes To Make Any Glasses 'Smart'

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Sony's glasses module attaches to the temples of various eye- and sunglasses to add a display and wireless connectivity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Los Angeles Police To Receive 7,000 Body Cameras

Los Angeles Police To Receive 7,000 Body Cameras

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the cameras will be distributed starting Jan. 1. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jaguar Unveils 360 Virtual Windshield Making Car Pillars Appear Transparent

Jaguar Unveils 360 Virtual Windshield Making Car Pillars Appear Transparent

Buzz60 (Dec. 17, 2014) Jaguar unveils a virtual 360 degree windshield that may be the most futuristic automotive development yet. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins