Buckyballs turn on copper’s magnetism | Science News

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Buckyballs turn on copper’s magnetism

Layers of carbon-atom cages steal electrons from certain metals, making them magnetic

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1:00pm, August 5, 2015
copper and manganese

MAGNETS-IN-WAITING  Copper (left) and manganese are typically nonmagnetic, like nearly every other element on the periodic table. But expose the metals to buckyballs and they become magnetized.

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

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