Luis Hueso, the CICnanoGUNE researcher, together with researchers from the University of Cambridge, among others, has developed a new technology in the magnetic cooling of chips based on the straining of materials. Compared with the current technologies, this advance enables the impact on the environment to be lessened. The work has been published recently in the prestigious journal Nature Materials.
Current cooling systems, be they refrigerators, freezers or air conditioning units, make use of the compression and expansion of a gas. When the gas is compressed, it changes into a liquid state and when it expands it evaporates once again. To evaporate, it needs heat, which it extracts from the medium it touches and that way cools it down. However, this system is harmful for the environment and, what is more, the compressors used are not particularly effective.
One of the main alternatives that is currently being explored is magnetic cooling. It consists of using a magnetic material instead of a gas, and magnetizing and demagnetizing cycles instead of compression-expansion cycles. Magnetic cooling is a technique based on the magnetocaloric effect, in other words, it is based on the properties displayed by certain materials to modify their temperature when a magnetic field is applied to them. However, the applying of a magnetic field leads to many problems in current miniaturized technological devices (electronic chips, computer memories, etc.), since the magnetic field can interact negatively owing to its effect on nearby units. In this respect, the quest for new ways of controlling the magnetization is crucial.
Magnetism without magnetic fields
The researchers Luis Hueso, Andreas Berger and Odrej Hovorka of nanoGUNE have discovered that by using the straining of materials, they can get around the problems of applying a magnetic field. "By straining the material and then relaxing it an effect similar to that of a m
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