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Home > Press > Northeastern University Scientists Discover Rapid, Cost-Effective, 100% Recyclable Method to Produce Ultra-strong Magnets

(a) A low and (b)high magnification TEM image of the SmCo nanoblades. (c) HRTEM image showing the growth direction of the blade is [100] (perpendicular to the (200) planes), and one of the surface plane parallel to the growth direction is the {001} plane. (d) The electron diffraction pattern from the nanoblade shown in (c) indicating that the blade is orientated along the [010] zone axis, and is consistent with the HRTEM image, showing the SmCo5 phase.
(a) A low and (b)high magnification TEM image of the SmCo nanoblades. (c) HRTEM image showing the growth direction of the blade is [100] (perpendicular to the (200) planes), and one of the surface plane parallel to the growth direction is the {001} plane. (d) The electron diffraction pattern from the nanoblade shown in (c) indicating that the blade is orientated along the [010] zone axis, and is consistent with the HRTEM image, showing the SmCo5 phase.

Abstract:
Innovative Processing Method Set to Bring Changes to Federal and Commercial Industries

Northeastern University Scientists Discover Rapid, Cost-Effective, 100% Recyclable Method to Produce Ultra-strong Magnets

Boston, MA | Posted on July 28th, 2008

Ultra-strong, high-temperature, high-performance permanent magnet compounds, such as Samarium Cobalt, are the mainstay materials for several industries that rely on high-performance motor and power generation applications, including the Department of Defense (DOD) and the automotive industry. Until now, producing Samarium Cobalt has been a difficult and expensive multi-step process. Northeastern University researchers have broken new ground with an innovative invention of a rapid, high-volume and cost-effective one-step method for producing pure Samarium Cobalt rare earth (RE) permanent magnet materials.

Invented by lead scientist C.N. Chinnasamy, Ph.D., at Northeastern's Center for Microwave Magnetic Materials, the direct chemical synthesis process is able to produce Samarium Cobalt rapidly and in large amounts, at a small fraction of the cost of the current industry method. Also, the process is environmentally friendly, with 100% recyclable chemicals, and readily scalable to large volume synthesis to meet the needs for the myriad of advanced permanent magnet applications. The study describing the invention is published in the latest issue of Applied Physics Letters (July 28, 2008).

"A single step chemical process has been pursued for decades with little success," said Vincent Harris, William Lincoln Smith Chair Professor and Director of the Center for Microwave Magnetic Materials and Integrated Circuits at Northeastern University and Principal Investigator of the program. "This research breakthrough represents a potentially disruptive step forward in the cost-effective processing of these important materials."

Samarium Cobalt magnets are superior to other classes of permanent magnetic materials for advanced high-temperature applications and the Northeastern invention goes beyond the currently known fabrication process of these nanostructured magnets. Unlike the traditional multi-step metallurgical techniques that provide limited control of the size and shape of the final magnetic particles, the Northeastern scientists' one-step method produces air-stable "nanoblades" (elongated nanoparticles shaped like blades,) that allow for a more efficient assembly that may ultimately result in smaller and lighter magnets without sacrificing performance. Northeastern University has filed an international patent application on the synthesis, size, shape and structure controlled RE-TM based nanocomposites particles and production of high energy product RE-TM nanocrystalline permanent magnets.

"Such unusually shaped particles should prove valuable in the processing of anisotropic magnets that are highly sought in many DOD and commercial applications and are anticipated to lead to lighter and more energy-efficient end products," said C.N. Chinnasamy. We also produced size, shape and structure controlled Rare earth (RE)-Transition metal nanoparticles directly and production of high emergy products are under process.

"Northeastern's new one-step process has the potential to reduce complexity
and associated costs of processing Samarium Cobalt magnets, which are used in
many advanced DOD weapon systems," said Richard T. Fingers, Ph.D., Chief, Energy Power Thermal Division of the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Underscoring the significance of the Northeastern invention relative to the high-performance rare earth magnet industry, Jinfang Liu, Ph.D., Vice President of Technology and Engineering at Electron Energy Corporation, a leading developer of permanent magnetic materials, added, "The development of stable Samarium Cobalt nanoparticles using this one-step chemical synthesis method may motivate more scientist and engineers to work on the development of next generation magnets."

This revolutionary invention is anticipated to not only revitalize the permanent magnet industry, it has the potential to bring major changes to several federal and commercial industries, including its potential to impact the size, weight, and performance of aircraft, ships, and land-based vehicles, as well as contribute to more efficient computer technologies and emerging biomedical applications.

"This work represents the most promising advance in rare earth permanent magnet processing in many years," said Laura Henderson Lewis, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering at Northeastern University and a collaborator on this project. "I expect it to revitalize international interest in the development of this important class of engineering materials."

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For more information, please click here

Contacts:
C. N. Chinnasamy (Chins) Ph.D
Research Scientist
Center for Microwave Magnetic Materials & Integrated Circuits
Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering
440 DANA
360 Huntington Avenue
Northeastern University
Boston MA 02115
USA
Also at:134 Egan Research Center
Northeastern University
Boston MA 02115 USA
Tel.: 617.373.5185


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