This week at the American Physical Society meeting in Denver, engineers were introduced to a new magnetic material could revolutionize the electronics industry. Professor Ivan Schuller from the University of California, San Diego presented a highly sensitive bilayer of nickel and vanadium oxide that responds to a narrow range of temperatures. When heat is applied, the material’s magnetism can be controlled without using a magnetic field or heat-intensive layers. This is the first known material able to express such properties, and it could become a new resource for computer memory systems.

electrical transformers, energy grid, energy infrastructure

Professor Shuller’s material operates within a narrow range of temperatures. When the oxide is cool, it operates as insulator. When it’s hot, it works as a metal. At a sweet spot of about 20 Kelvin above room temperature, the material becomes a strange new substance that can create a five-fold change in coercivity, or “magnetic resistance“.

While exact applications for the material are yet unknown, Schuller and his colleagues predict it could be useful in data storage and electricity networks. Anything from computer hard drives to electrical transformers could benefit from the technology, which stands to make devices more efficient, powerful, and easier to manipulate.

+ University of California San Diego

Via BBC News

Images via Wikicommons users High Contrast and William Warby