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Researchers envision high-tech applications for 'multiferroic' crystals
Date:2/12/2010

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Two of The Florida State University's most accomplished scientists recently joined forces on a collaborative research project that has yielded groundbreaking results involving an unusual family of crystalline minerals. Their findings could lay the groundwork for future researchers seeking to develop a new generation of computer chips and other information-storage devices that can hold vast amounts of data and be strongly encrypted for security purposes.

Working with a team of researchers from various disciplines, Naresh S. Dalal and Sir Harold W. "Harry" Kroto, both world-renowned chemists and educators, took a close look at a family of crystals known as metal-organic frameworks, or MOFs. Employing both laboratory experimentation and computational analysis, they found that four such crystals possessed properties that rarely coexist.

"We identified these four crystals as 'multiferroic,' meaning that they are simultaneously ferromagnetic and ferroelectric in nature when cooled to a specific temperature," said Dalal, Florida State's Dirac Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry. (Ferromagnetism means a material possesses magnetic poles, while ferroelectricity refers to a material that possesses positive and negative electrical charges that can be reversed when an external electrical field is applied.)

"Normally, these two properties are mutually exclusive," Dalal said. "Most materials are either ferromagnetic or ferroelectric based on the number of electrons in the ion's outer electron shell. Therefore, finding four multiferroic materials at one time is quite scientifically significant and opens numerous doors in terms of potential applications."

Multiferroic materials have been a hot topic of research in recent years, with researchers finding applications in the areas of hydrogen storage and the design of advanced optical elements, among others. Kroto sees another potential use: in the creation of high-pow
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Contact: Narseh Dalal
ndalal@fsu.edu
850-644-3398
Florida State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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Researchers envision high-tech applications for 'multiferroic' crystals
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