In the realm of advancing data storage and computing speed, researchers are pioneering a new era of materials to meet escalating consumer expectations. Dr. Srinivasa Singamaneni, an associate professor in the Department of Physics at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), poses a critical question: “How can we design new materials so that they can store data with less volume, less cost, and using less power?” The answer may lie in a groundbreaking type of magnet discovered by Singamaneni and his team of UTEP physicists, as detailed in the journal npj 2D Materials and Applications.
Singamaneni, the lead author of the study, has been focused on a class of magnets known as van der Waals magnets since 2021. The newly unveiled 2D magnets, possessing length and width but only one layer thickness, exhibit immense potential in the computing world owing to their diminutive size. However, a significant drawback has hindered the practical applications of van der Waals magnets: they only functioned at temperatures below freezing—until now.
Collaborating with scientists from Stanford University, The University of Edinburgh, Los Alamos National Lab, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and Brookhaven National Lab, Singamaneni’s team discovered a breakthrough. By introducing a low-cost organic material, tetrabutylammonium, between the atomic layers of the magnet, they enabled it to operate at temperatures of up to 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Van der Waals magnets don’t have practical applications right now because of their temperature constraints,” explains Singamaneni. “My approach is unique because we’ve shown that a simple chemical treatment to a distinct magnet can push boundaries of 2D magnetism; this could be quite transformative for the industry.”
While the team has demonstrated the magnet’s potential at the laboratory level, the journey doesn’t end there. They plan to continue studying and perfecting the material for eventual integration into computing systems.
The additional contributors to this groundbreaking study include UTEP alumnus Hector Iturriaga (now at Stanford University), UTEP graduate student Luis M. Martinez, UTEP scientists Sreeprasad Sreenivasan, Ph.D., and Mohamed Sanad, Ph.D., NIST scientists Thuc Mai, Ph.D., Adam Biacchi, Ph.D., and Angela Hight Walker, Ph.D., University of Edinburgh scientists Mathias Augustin, Ph.D., and Elton Santos, Ph.D., Los Alamos National Lab’s Yu Liu, Ph.D., and Cedomir Petrovic, Ph.D., of Brookhaven National Lab.
Source: University of Texas at El Paso