Layers of carbon-atom cages steal electrons from certain metals, making them magnetic
Jonathan Zander/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.5); Tomihahndorf/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)
A new recipe for magnetism calls for an infusion of nano-sized soccer balls.
When exposed to sheets of carbon-atom cages called buckyballs, copper and manganese become permanent magnets, researchers report in the Aug. 6 Nature. The technique could enable engineers to expand the roster of metals for magnet-based technology, including computer memory and medical imaging.
Previously, iron, cobalt and nickel were the only elements to be room-temperature ferromagnets, materials that retain magnetism after exposure to a magnetic field. Despite bookending those three elements on the periodic table, copper and manganese ordinarily don’t support the coordinated electron spin that’s necessary for ferromagnetism.
Oscar Céspedes, a condensed matter physicist at the University of Leeds in England, and colleagues tried to remedy that by stacking metal films and sheets of buckyballs, which tend to steal