States Department of Energy (DOE) announced a $3 million grant to Argonne
National Laboratory to further research in developing better, cheaper, and
As one of
60 grants funded by a $156 million investment from DOE’s Advanced Research
Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) initiative, a team of Argonne materials
scientists, nanotechnologists, and engineers will pursue the development of a
particular type of “exchange-spring” magnet that could offer industry
a superior alternative to increasingly expensive magnets based on rare earth
Department of Energy created the ARPA-E initiative to give a jump-start to
truly transformative research, to give scientists and engineers a chance to
develop game-changing new technologies that will promote American prosperity
and energy independence,” says Eric D. Isaacs, director of Argonne.
“Through Argonne’s expertise in nanotechnology, we hope to speed
development of affordable new magnets that can be manufactured from domestic
materials—and that can ultimately play a key role in the commercialization of new,
green energy technologies.”
magnets are frequently used in windmill generators and electric motors. The
recent development of the global energy economy has placed a premium on the
rare earth elements on which these magnets are based. Using nanotechnology, Argonne researchers hope to create magnets that displace
the need for these materials.
magnets combine two distinct kinds of magnetic materials—so called
“hard” and “soft” magnets. By magnetically coupling the
hard and soft magnetic materials, their composite magnetic strength increases
and they can operate at higher temperatures. By nanostructuring a magnet with a
“hard” outer shell and a “soft” inner core, researchers
hope to benefit from both types of materials, says Argonne
principal process engineer John Hryn.
nanostructured magnet large enough for an industrial application will be no
small feat, says Argonne nanotechnologist Richard
Brotzman. The project will rely on assembling the magnetic particles at the
nanoscale before joining them using a process known as slip casting, a
technique traditionally associated with the production of ceramics. “Slip
casting allows us to orient these nanoparticles to maximize their magnetic
properties,” he says.
partnered with the Electron Energy Corporation of Pennsylvania on the proposal.