Scientists identify new magnetic element

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New York, May 27 (IANS) Scientists have demonstrated that the chemical element ruthenium (Ru) is the fourth single element to have unique magnetic properties at room temperature.

The researchers believe that the discovery, detailed in the journal Nature Communications, could be used to improve sensors, devices in the computer memory and logic industry, or other devices using magnetic materials.

“Magnetism is always amazing. It proves itself again. We are excited and grateful to be the first group to experimentally demonstrate and add the fourth ferromagnetic element at room temperature to the periodic table,” said Jian-Ping Wang, Professor at University of Minnesota in the US and the corresponding author for the paper.

The use of ferromagnetism, or the basic mechanism by which certain materials (such as iron) form permanent magnets or are attracted to magnets, reaches back as far as ancient times when lodestone was used for navigation.

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Since then only three elements on the periodic table have been found to be ferromagnetic at room temperature — iron (Fe), cobalt (Co), and nickel (Ni). The rare earth element gadolinium (Gd) nearly misses by only 8 degrees Celsius.

Magnetic materials are very important in industry and modern technology and have been used for fundamental studies and in many everyday applications such as sensors, electric motors, generators, hard disk media, and most recently spintronic memories.

By using ultra-thin films to force the ferromagnetic phase, this new study demonstrated that Ru can be the fourth single element ferromagnetic material.

“It took us about two years to find a right way to grow this material and validate it. This work will trigger magnetic research community to look into fundamental aspects of magnetism for many well-known elements,” Wang added.

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–IANS

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