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  • Division of Permanent Magnets and Applications

Division of Permanent Magnets and Applications

  • The team

    The Team

    The Division of Permanent Magnets and Applications is integrated in the Program Nanoscience for Critical Raw Materials of IMDEA Nanoscience and is constituted at present by:

    Dr. Alberto Bollero – Head of the Division and Program Manager.
    Dr. Cristina Navío – Postdoctoral researcher.
    Dr. Ester M.Palmero – Postdoctoral researcher
    Javier Rial – PhD student.
    Melek Villanueva – PhD student.
    Noelia López – Technician (scientific laboratory).
    Javier de Vicente – Technician (robotics and automatism solutions).
    The Program Nanoscience for Critical Raw Materials (coordinated by Prof. Alberto Bollero) is working closely with the Program Nanomagnetism (coordinated by Prof. Julio Camarero) at IMDEA Nanoscience.

    The Division is at present coordinating several scientific and technological initiatives:

    1. EU M-era.Net Project NEXMAG (Ref. MAT2014-56955-R) [www.nexmag.net];

    2. Bilateral project ENMA (Ref. PCIN-2015-126) between the Northeastern University Boston (Prof. Laura H. Lewis’ Group) and IMDEA Nanociencia, which also involves the company IMA S.A. (Barcelona).

    3. Industrial project with the company Höganäs AB (Sweden), for development of novel permanent magnets solutions.

    The Group is additionally participating in the project NANOFRONTMAG-CM (coordinated by Prof. Rodolfo Miranda, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid) [Ref. S2013/MIT-2850]. In the past, the Group has coordinated the EU Project FP7 NANOPYME (Ref. 310516) and a bilateral German-Spanish action exploring the use of rare-earth/metal multilayers in new sensing devices.

    The Division of Permanent Magnets and Applications is actively working in:

    • Preparation and characterization of magnetic nanostructures: thin films, multilayers, and permanent magnet powders.
    • Fabrication of magnets by hot- and cold-compaction methods.
    • 3D-printing technologies of metallic materials.
    • Recycling methods successfully proven for:

    • a) magnetic waste in industrial plants;
      (b) magnets from electronic devices (HDDs, mobile phones…)
    • Consulting solutions and measurements-testing services to technological centres and international companies.

    Group of Division of Permanent Magnets and Applications at IMDEA Nanoscience.

    Division of Permanent Magnets and Applications at IMDEA Nanoscience. From left to right: Dr. Ester M. Palmero, J. Rial, Dr. Eva Céspedes, Noelia López, Prof. Alberto Bollero, Melek Villanueva, Dr. C. Navío, Javier de Vicente.

  • Scope

    Magnetic materials are important in the production, transmission and use of electrical energy. It has become obvious over the years that an increased use of low carbon technologies is necessary to ensure a high living standard. Permanent magnets (PMs), used in multitude of technological applications, play a very important role in these efforts. Many nowadays applications traditionally use rare earth (RE)-based PMs, as no relevant problems in terms of availability or high and unstable pricing raised at the time of their implementation. The situation has dramatically changed in recent years due to the increased monopoly.

    This increased need of PMs in combination with the strategically geographical situation of REs make mandatory, first, an efficient and well focused use of these elements for specific purposes (high performing applications or micro-scalable devices) and, additionally, a reinforcement in the search of PMs alternatives in applications areas where the use of REs may be reduced or totally avoided.

    We work actively in collaboration with international research centers and companies in the search of improved and novel permanent magnet materials. Our research is based on three main pillars:
    1. Development of basic research and its translation to industry and end-users.
    2. Up-scalability of the procedures to avoid that achieved advances stop at the laboratory.
    3. Sustainability through recycling and efficient use of the resources.

    Figure 1. Permanent magnets (PMs) in nowadays technological applications: from energy generation, going through energy transformation and to devices. [Image: IMDEA Nanoscience]

    Figure 1. Permanent magnets (PMs) in nowadays technological applications: from energy generation, going through energy transformation and to devices. [Image: IMDEA Nanoscience]

    RE-free PMs, constituted by non-critical elements would contribute to solve the EU dependency of REs and would revert the situation of the PMs from the nowadays situation which is determined by the geographical distribution of the raw materials to a new market where the know-how and technological development will determine the market leader.

    The Division of Permanent Magnets and Applications works in close cooperation with recognized international research centres [IFE (Norway), JSI (Slovenia), INSTM (Italy), UCM and CSIC (Spain), AU and DTU (Denmark), Chemical Engineering Department at Northeastern University (US) …] and well established companies [Magneti (Slovenia), IMA S.L. (Spain)] in the search of alternatives to RE-PMs and of more efficient and environmentally friendly synthesis and processing routes for PMs.

    Figure 2. Coercivity development in nanocrystalline MnAl particles achieved by the innovative rapid-milling procedure (30-270 s) followed by reduced-temperature annealing (365ºC/10min). Published in J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 50, 105004 (2017).

    Figure 3. Recycling of ferrite residues in a manufactory plant. The quality of the recycled ferrite powder has been tested and compared to that of the new starting ferrite material. The magnetic properties of the recycled powder not only match those of the starting material acquired by the company for the production of magnets but exceed them. A coercivity value 3.5 times larger than that of the new starting ferrite powder, accompanied by a 25% increase in remanence, makes this material a new and improved ferrite product to re-enter the production chain in the factory with an extended applications range. Extended information: ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 5, 3243 (2017)

    Figure 4. SEM image of Sr-ferrite sintered magnet prepared at IMA S.L. [Image: IMDEA Nanoscience]

  • Facilities

    The laboratories dedicated to PMs are divided into three categories:

    • Synthesis and processing of magnetic powders and bulk magnets.
    High-energy ball milling devices; three small and large volume furnaces with operation under controlled atmosphere; pressing machine for compaction under magnetic field; humidity chambers for testing under extreme operation conditions.

    • 3D-Printing
  • Different types of extruders and 3D-printing equipment for printing of polymers and composites (polymer/magnetic and metallic powder).

    • Thin films growth capabilities.
    Molecular beam epixy (MBE) equipment with a full range of in-situ characterisation techniques (XPS, UPS and LEED); two sputtering devices.

    • Magnetic characterisation.
    Vectorial vibrating sample magnetometer (v-VSM) with possibility of applying a maximum magnetic field of 3T; three vectorial-magneto-optical Kerr effect (v-MOKE) setups allowing for simultaneous recording of angular hysteresis loops and magnetoresistance curves and operating at low and high temperatures; a high resolution MOKE microscope with possibility of in-situ application of perpendicular and in-plane external magnetic field. Furthermore, microstructural characterisation tools (dual FIB/SEM, SEM, TEM,…) are also available at the institute.
  • Projects

    1.Title: NEXMAG "New Exchange-Coupled Manganese-Based Magnetic Materials" [PCIN-2015-126]
    Coordinator: Dr. Alberto Bollero
    Financial Entities: MINECO (Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad, Spain), RCN (Norway) and SAS (Slovakia) through EU M.era-Net Programme.
    Project costs: 865.333 €. Funding: 739.424 €

    2.Title: ENMA "Exchange-coupled Nanocomposite Magnets: Towards Rare Earth-Free Permanent Magnets" [MAT2014-56955-R]
    Coordinator: Dr. Alberto Bollero
    Financial Entity: MINECO (Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation)
    Funding: € 60.000

    3.Title: GAMMA [Industrial Project].
    P.I.: Dr. Alberto Bollero
    Financial Entity: Höganäs AB (Sweden).

    4.Title: NANOFRONTMAG “New Frontiers of Basic and Applied Magnetism” [Ref. S2013/MIT-2850]
    Coordinator: Prof. Rodolfo Miranda (LASUAM)
    Financial Entity: Regional Government (Comunidad de Madrid)
    Duration: 01/01/2014 – 01/01/2017    
    Funding: € 894.400

    5.Title: NANOPYME “Nanocrystalline Permanent Magnets Based on Hybrid Metal-Ferrites” [Ref. 310516]. NANOPYME website: www.nanopyme-project.eu
    Coordinator: Dr. Alberto Bollero
    Financial Entity: FP7 E.U. [7th Framework Programme]
    Duration: 01/12/2012 – 31/11/2015
    Project costs: 4.5 M€. Funding: 3.5 M€


    6.Title: “Isothermal control of the magnitude and the sign of the exchange-bias field in orthogonally coupled ferromagnetic bilayers” [Ref. 57050243].
    P.I.: Dr. Alberto Bollero
    Financial Entity: DAAD and Fundación Universidad.es
    Duration: 01/01/2014 – 31/12/2015
    Funding: € 14.000

    7.Title: SIESPER "Perpendicular spintronic nanostructured systems" [Ref. MAT2011-25598]
    P.I.: Dr. Alberto Bollero
    Financial Entity: MINECO (Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation)
    Duration: 01/01/2012 – 31/12/2014
    Funding: € 80.000

    8.Title: “Magnetic properties of iron oxide nanoparticles and nanostructured films”
    PI: Dr. Alberto Bollero
    Financial Entity: Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación-Subprograma Ramón y Cajal
    Duration: 01/03/2008 – 28/02/2013 Status: Ended Project
    Funding: € 15.000