The use of highly metallic materials relates to metal sandwich complexes, referred to as 'metallocenes'
. These complexes can be incorporated into polymeric materials (Polymers, or plastics, which feature metal atoms in their structure). The metal complexes are mostly based on iron. Applications have included self-healing materials, photovoltaic technology, and information storage. It is with information storage, linked to computer technology that the new development focuses on.
Instead of iron the researchers have been building magnetic metallic materials using nickel (as 'nickelocene' units). These can also be incorporated into plastic structures. The end product is a bright green, highly magnetic material. The work has been undertaken at the University of Bristol by a team led by Professor Ian Manners.
The technique has been fine-tuned
to the degree that the research group can create and destroy the dynamic magnetic polymer using only subtle changes in temperature. This is through a physicochemical process called depolymerisation
. The tendency of polymers to depolymerize is indicated by their ceiling temperature. This leads to the creation of a readily accessible, easily handled, soluble magnetic polymer.
The electronic and magnetic properties of this polymer are now being explored. The main aim is to develop highly magnetic materials that can be used in data storage applications. These are seen as an important step in improving the performance of computer technologies. Magnetic storage uses different patterns of magnetisation in a magnetisable material to store data and is a form of non-volatile memory. With computer technology the information is accessed using one or more read/write heads. In particular the technology is regarded as very useful in applications where moderate amounts of storage are needed for when very frequent updates are required, especially where flash memory cannot provide support due to its limited write endurance.
The new development has been published in
the journal Nature Chemistry
, captured in the research paper “Main-chain metallopolymers at the static–dynamic boundary based on nickelocene.”