new alloy harmonizes mechanical, soft magnetic properties
a mechanically strong and ductile soft magnet with extremely low coercivity. (photo: nature)
by staff reporters
soft magnetic materials (smms) serve in electrical applications and sustainable energy supply, allowing magnetic flux variation in response to changes in applied magnetic fields, at low energy loss.
the electrification of transport, households and manufacturing leads to an increase in energy consumption owing to hysteresis losses. therefore, minimizing coercivity, which scales these losses, is crucial.
yet meeting this target alone is not enough: smms in electrical engines must withstand severe mechanical loads; that is, the alloys need high strength and ductility. this is a fundamental design challenge, as most methods that enhance strength introduce stress fields that can pin magnetic domains, thus increasing coercivity and hysteresis losses.
to assist in overcoming this challenge, the research team from central south university of china has designed a fe–co–ni–ta–al multicomponent alloy with ferromagnetic matrix and paramagnetic coherent nanoparticles (about 91 nm in size and around 55 percent volume fraction). they impede dislocation motion, enhancing strength and ductility.
their small size, low coherency stress and small magnetostatic energy create an interaction volume below the magnetic domain wall width, leading to minimal domain wall pinning, thus maintaining the soft magnetic properties.
the alloy has a tensile strength of 1,336 mpa at 54 percent tensile elongation, extremely low coercivity, moderate saturation magnetization and high electrical resistivity, which is expected to be widely used in the fields of photovoltaic power generation, new energy vehicles and charging piles, data centers and electronics in the future.