Magnetic Nanoparticles Lead to a New Class of Composites

january 23 2012

Researchers at ETH-Zurich have developed a process that result in an entirely new class of composite that mimics the precise layering seen in nature's abalone seashell. This technique enables new technologies from durable coatings to stronger and lighter materials.

The idea was simple to move the material to where you wanted them to go by the use of magnetic force. However, the obvious problem is that not all materials used in composites are magnetic. The researchers, who published their work in the January 13th issue of the journal Science in an article entitled "Composites Reinforced in Three Dimensions by Using Low Magnetic Fields," overcame this obstacle by adding a small amount of magnetic nanoparticles to the nonmagnetic materials.

The researchers discovered that this process of adding magnetic nanoparticles only works with stiff elements in the micrometer size range, which just so happens to overlap with the sizes the composite industry uses.

One would have to believe that this research will quickly find itself in commercial use as the ETH-Zurich researchers are continuing this work in collaboration with composite companies to get this straight into industrial processes.

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