Diamond Light Source Scientific Highlights: When Iron behaves like a rare-earth element - and why
Release date: 23/11/2020
When Iron behaves like a rare-earth element - and why
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Diamond Light Source, Science Highlights
A combination of synchrotron techniques decodes the secrets of an unusual magnetic material.
Modern life relies on magnetism, from electric motors and generators to digital storage methods. The best magnets include rare earth elements, which are uncommon, costly and toxic. It would be beneficial to just use cheap and abundant transition metals, but their magnetism is not as strong without the presence of rare earth elements. In work recently published in Chemical Science, an international team of researchers used a variety of synchrotron X-ray techniques to characterise iron-doped lithium nitride, a novel material in which iron atoms exhibit magnetism as if they were a rare earth element. A full understanding of its structure could lead to the development of transition metal magnets, high-density digital storage, and advances in quantum computing.