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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/V003089/1
Title: Isolobal Solutions to the Hysteresis Challenge in Single-Molecule Magnetism
Principal Investigator: Layfield, Professor RA
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Chinese Academy of Science University of Oulu
Department: Sch of Life Sciences
Organisation: University of Sussex
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 March 2021 Ends: 29 February 2024 Value (£): 743,707
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Co-ordination Chemistry Condensed Matter Physics
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
22 Jul 2020 EPSRC Physical Sciences - July 2020 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Magnetic materials containing rare-earth elements are indispensable to modern society, with their myriad applications ranging from the bulk scales of wind turbines and batteries for electronic vehicles to small-scale devices such as smart phones and computer hard-disk drives (HDDs). The use of rare earths in HDDs is particularly important since conventional technology for data processing relies on the unique magnetic properties of these elements to process and store digital information. This technology is struggling to keep pace with the rate at which data is generated and with the demands for processing it through increasingly sophisticated computer modelling processes.

To meet the demands of modern society and its thirst for generating extremely large amounts of data, there is a pressing need to develop new types of magnetic material capable of storing this data whilst simultaneously decreasing the physical size of the storage medium. In this project, we propose to develop solutions to the problem based on a simple premise: size matters.

The amount of data that can be stored in an HDD depends on the size of the magnetic particles; making these particles smaller should allow more digital information to be stored per unit area. Conventional rare-earth magnetic materials consist of particles with dimensions on the scale of tens of nanometres. In this project, we will synthesize a family of rare-earth magnets known as single-molecule magnets (SMMs), which store magnetic information at the level of individual molecules, typically with dimensions of less than one nanometre.

Molecules offer a major advantage over conventional atom-based magnets, which is that their properties can be improved rationally by changing the chemical environment in which the rare-earth elements reside. This facet allows us to address the major challenge in studies of SMMs, which is that their properties can only be observed upon cooling with cryogens, which is expensive and impractical.

In a ground-breaking development, the PI reported the first SMM to show magnetic memory effects above the boiling point of liquid nitrogen. The wider significance of this benchmark system is that it provides a blueprint for developing a new generation of high-temperature SMM. Therefore, in this project we will develop innovative chemical routes to a new generation of SMM with properties that can be observed at unprecedentedly high temperatures. Success with this project will potentially take an important step towards the incorporation of these materials into functional devices.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.sussex.ac.uk