Jagiellonian University researchers have developed a new method for producing molecular soft magnetic materials

Jagiellonian University researchers have developed a new method for producing molecular soft magnetic materials

Source of information: Department of Chemistry of the Jagiellonian University
Category: Technologies

A versatile method for producing molecular soft magnetic materials has been developed at the Department of Chemistry of the Jagiellonian University. Unlike existing technologies, the compounds obtained by the method proposed by the Jagiellonian researchers are resistant to high temperatures, which increases their potential application in various industrial sectors.

The discovery is significant for at least two reasons. Firstly, the method uses precursors that allow the production of a variety of micromagnets from readily available elements, including those not previously considered to be magnetically active. In practice, this means lower costs to implement the technology and independence from the hard-to-reach and expensive metals such as cobalt, nickel or rare earths that currently dominate the production of magnetic materials.

Second, molecular magnetism has potentially very broad applications in many sectors of the economy, from medicine and pharmaceuticals to space, electronics, storage and energy, and quantum computing. Any innovation in this field has the potential to contribute to significant technological advances that will have a positive impact on various aspects of our lives.

Prof Janusz Szklarzewicz, Ph.D., from the Jagiellonian University, says that together they have developed precursors with cyanine ligands that exhibit properties that have been sought after by industry for years. They can be combined with a wide range of elements, including non-metals, which makes it possible to obtain microparticles with extremely strong ferromagnetic properties, i.e. those inherent in ordinary magnets. Interestingly, the precursors we have developed can be used to make soft magnetic materials in different forms – magnetic solids as well as magnetic liquids. We can obtain not only particles, but also crystals of different sizes, powders or coatings with magnetic properties.

The technology developed makes it possible to produce soft ferromagnets that retain their durability and magnetic properties at high temperatures. These materials can withstand any temperature range up to the decay level of the precursor. This is important because a major problem with the molecular magnetic materials used in industry to date has been the loss of ferromagnetic properties at very low temperatures, even below the temperature of liquid nitrogen. This limitation has severely restricted the practical use of these materials.

The new technology overcomes these limitations and opens up broad prospects for their use in various industries.

Molecular magnetics have unique characteristics compared to traditional magnetic materials, such as low density and spin bistability. The low density allows for a high ratio of magnetic field strength to material mass. Spin bistability means that the material can change its magnetic properties under the influence of external factors, such as light.

Soft magnetics exhibit ferromagnetic properties when subjected to an external magnetic field. When the magnetic field is varied, even at high frequencies, the material also responds by varying its magnetic properties. An important aspect is the rate of these magnetic changes, determined by the hysteresis value. This characteristic is particularly desirable in the energy industry, in the context of energy transmission and voltage transformation, as it affects transmission efficiency and minimises energy losses. Suitable magnetic materials enable the construction of devices with low energy losses, capable of operating at very high frequencies.

Dr Maciej Hodorowicz, co-inventor from the Department of Chemistry at the Jagiellonian University, explains:

“The class of materials we have developed has magnetic properties at the molecular level and behaves similarly to ferromagnets, i.e. traditional magnets. The properties of the material are due to the properties of the individual molecules and not to the crystalline structure, as is the case with conventional magnets. In practice, this means that we can make magnetic microparticles from suitable precursors. We can also combine them to produce the desired target material, such as a crystal, liquid or coating. It all depends on the intended use of the magnet. In any case, the technology has great potential for use in a variety of applications – wherever soft materials with ferromagnetic properties are needed.

Application of ferromagnets

The developed technology offers a very wide range of applications. At this stage, Jagiellonian University has secured the technology through patent applications both in Poland and abroad. The key now is to establish partnerships with players from various industries who will be interested in testing and implementing this innovation.

“There are wide possibilities for implementation in areas such as quantum computers, energy transformers, drug carriers, miniaturisation of electronics, production of data carriers, or in such sophisticated segments as sealing magnetic fluids used in space stations or satellites. At this stage, cooperation with industry is key, and the breadth of the potential means that we are looking for partners to develop this technology simultaneously in several industries and segments,” says Dr Gabriela Konopka-Cupiał, Director of the Jagiellonian University Technology Transfer Centre, CITTRU.

Another feature of the developed molecular magnets is their photosensitivity. “The photosensitivity makes it possible to use these materials, for example, in the production of new types of storage media in which a thin magnetic coating is a key element. Such a coating can be destroyed in a controlled manner under the influence of light and temperature. Importantly, this type of controlled destruction actually causes irreversible data loss. Perhaps this type of technology will also find applications in the military industry or in specialised IT in the future. – adds Prof Janusz Szklarzewicz.