Ames National Laboratory, Ames, Iowa, USA, has announced that a project led by Rebecca Flint, an Ames National Laboratory scientist and associate professor at Iowa State University, has been named by the US Department of Energy as one of the winners of the 2022 Chemical and Materials Sciences to Advance Clean-Energy Technologies and Transform Manufacturing (CEM) awards.
The project, titled ‘Exploiting the interplay of mixed valence and magnetic anisotropy in rare earths’, has been awarded $4.5 million to conduct fundamental research that can help scientists develop permanent magnets that use fewer rare earth elements. Permanent magnets are vital to energy, transportation and security and are used in products such as electric vehicles, wind turbines, phones, refrigerators and aircraft.
Many of the rare earths required for permanent magnets are in short supply but rare earths are the only known materials with the necessary properties for permanent magnets. They provide large magnetisation at high temperatures and have a strong magnetic anisotropy. Magnetic anisotropy makes it difficult to demagnetise the magnet in an external magnetic field.
Despite their importance, scientists need more information to accurately describe and predict the properties of rare earth systems. With this in mind, Flint’s team will develop a complete and measurable picture of how anisotropy evolves in different rare earth materials. Their work will employ theoretical, computational, and experimental methods.
Flint stated, “This research should have a significant impact on the development of novel magnets with fewer rare earths, while maintaining or enhancing anisotropy.”
It is expected that this understanding will ultimately allow scientists to predict new stable rare earth compounds that have the properties necessary to advance the design and processing of magnetic materials.
“Ames Lab has long been a leader in researching and understanding the properties of rare earth materials and this project will build upon and extend this leadership,” commented Jamie Morris, chief research officer at Ames Lab.
Ames National Laboratory is a US Department of Energy Office of Science National Laboratory operated by Iowa State University. The laboratory creates innovative materials, technologies and energy solutions.