The World’s Thinnest Magnet

in STEMGeeks2 months ago

New 2D material from zinc oxide and cobalt is the world's first true 2D magnet. And not only is it the thinnest but also the most durable against temperatures as it still functions as a magnet at around 100° Celsius.


Image by Meredin from Pixabay

Lately, material scientists around the world have been researching and developing 2D magnets. For example, in 2017 they discovered 2D chromium triiodide that kept ferromagnetic of its multilayered analogy. But, so far, 2D magnets have only worked at very low temperatures making it very hard to find practical uses for them.

Now, a team of American experts from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley developed a 2D material made from a single layer of atoms that is magnetic and works at room temperature. This could lead to many incredibly interesting applications – including much higher data storage capacity.

This was confirmed even by Jie Yao from the University of California – the research lead. Current 2D magnets require to be significantly cooled while our own data centers are being kept at around room temperature for many practical reasons including easier access for repair and most importantly – energy costs. But the new 2D magnet should be the first true 2D magnet made by a single layer of atoms and the first capable of handling higher temperatures.

The scientists created the new 2d magnet from a mixture of graphene oxide, zinc, and cobalt. The mixture was baked in a laboratory to create a layer of zinc oxide enhanced with cobalt atoms put between two layers of graphene. After they removed the graphene they got a 2D magnetic film. Later experiments show that the magnetic properties of the 2D magnet can be changed by changing the number of cobalt atoms. If the materials only include 5 – 6 % of cobalt atoms the material is a weak magnet. But when the concentration of cobalt atoms reaches around 12 % you get a very strong magnet. And when the material reaches 15 % of cobalt atoms it reaches a complicated quantum state when individual magnetic building blocks are in conflict.

The experiments show that the new 2D magnet keeps its magnetic properties up to a temperature of around 100° Celsius substantially increasing possible usage for the material. On top of that, its mechanical properties are quite interesting as well as the material can be bent into practically any shape.


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