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Material’s magnetism tuned by temperature

Layered substance is candidate for future hard drives

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5:09pm, March 5, 2014

DENVER — A small change in temperature can alter a newly fabricated material’s magnetic properties. It’s a unique feature that holds promise for building more dependable data storage devices. “No magnetic material known to man is known to do this,” said Ivan Schuller, a condensed matter physicist at the University of California, San Diego. He described the material March 3 at a meeting of the American Physical Society.

Schuller’s creation consists of nickel layered atop a vanadium oxide compound. Researchers had previously shown that the oxide is an electric insulator at low temperatures and a conductor at higher ones. But by adding nickel, the researchers found that the hybrid material’s magnetism also became linked to temperature. Schuller and his team manipulated the material’s coercivity, a measure of how difficult it is to switch the magnetic state, by adjusting the temperature over a 20-degree-Celsius range.

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