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article imageMagnets made without metals, thanks to graphene

By Tim Sandle     Mar 12, 2017 in Science
Olomouc - Creating magnetics from materials other than metals could lead to many technological advances, especially with semiconductors. For the first time, a non-metallic magnet has been developed using graphene.
The breakthrough has occurred at the Regional Centre of Advanced Technologies and Materials (RCPTM), which is located at Palacký University Olomouc. The basis of the breakthrough is with an ultra-thin form of carbon called graphene. In doing so, a long-held scientific assumption that that all materials exhibiting magnetism, at a standard temperature, is a product of metals.
The researchers have shown that by treating graphene with non-metallic elements, like fluorine, hydrogen, and oxygen, they could create a new source of magnetic moments that communicate with each other. Trails have shown that the two-dimensional magnets undergo a transition to a ferromagnetic state at low temperatures, and exhibit and a high magnetic moment. The magnetic moment of a magnet is a quantity that determines the torque (rotational force) it will experience in an external magnetic field.
The development furthers the potential that graphene holds across a range of different scientific disciplines. Graphene has many unusual properties. For example, it is 200 times stronger than the strongest steel; the material efficiently conducts heat and electricity and is nearly transparent. The new discovery concerns graphene showing a large diamagnetism.
As to why this happens, chief scientist Michal Otyepka told Controlled Environments magazine that “in metallic systems, magnetic phenomena result from the behavior of electrons in the atomic structure of metals. In the organic magnets that we have developed, the magnetic features emerge from the behavior of non-metallic chemical radicals that carry free electrons.”
In tests run by the Czech researchers, the non-metallic magnet has retained its magnetic properties at temperatures up to room temperature. Work has now begun on commercializing organic magnets.
The development of the non-metallic magnets should aid the biomedical and electronics fields. An example with medicine is targeted drug delivery, which is about getting drugs to the correct part of the human body so they are more effective. The research has been published in the journal Nature Communications, with the paper headed “Room temperature organic magnets derived from sp3 functionalized graphene.”
Graphene and its properties are regularly featured on Digital Journal’s science pages. Our most recent featured story concerned how researchers have interfaced brain cells onto graphene. Through this the medics have managed to differentiate a single hyperactive cancerous cell from a normal cell. The point of this laboratory test is to develop a new, noninvasive technique for the early detection of cancer.
More about Graphene, magents, Metals, Physics
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