UTEP researchers improve magnets for computes

UTEP researchers improve magnets for computes

EL PASO, Texas (November 20, 2023) – With demand for increased data storage and faster-performance computers, researchers are creating a new generation of materials to meet consumer expectations.

“How can we design new materials so they can store data at a smaller volume, at a lower cost, and using less energy?” asked Srinivasa Singamaneni, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Texas at El Paso

The answer may lie in a new type of magnet discovered by Singamaneni and UTEP physicists. The material is described in the journal Nature npj 2D materials and applications.

“Many researchers are exploring quantum magnets to revolutionize the future of computational power,” Singamaneni said. “A lot of gadgets use traditional magnets — laptops, speakers, headphones, MRI scanners — and these magnets could be replaced by quantum magnets one day.”

Singamaneni, lead author of the new study, has been working on a class of magnets known as van der Waals magnets since 2021. The new 2D magnets — which have a length and width but are only one layer thick — have huge potential in the world of computing because of their small size, Singamaneni said.

However, van der Waals magnets have only worked at temperatures below freezing, until now.

In collaboration with a team of scientists from Stanford University, the University of Edinburgh, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Brookhaven National Laboratory, Singamaneni discovered that adding a low-cost organic material – known as tetrabutylammonium – between the atomic layers of a magnet allows the magnets to work At temperatures up to 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Van der Waals magnets have no practical applications at the moment due to their temperature limitations,” Singamaneni said. “My approach is unique because we have shown that simple chemical manipulation of a distinct magnet can go beyond the limits of 2D magnetism; this could be completely transformative for the industry.”

The team has demonstrated the potential of magnets at the laboratory level, but plans to continue studying the material and improving it for use in computing.

Additional authors on the study are UTEP alumnus Hector Iturriaga, currently at Stanford University; UTEP graduate student Luis M. Martinez and UTEP scientists Sriprasad Srinivasan, Ph.D., and Muhammad Sanad, Ph.D.; NIST scientists Thuc May, Ph.D., Adam Biachey, Ph.D., and Angela Hite-Walker, Ph.D.; University of Edinburgh scientists Matthias Augustin, Ph.D., and Elton Santos, Ph.D.; Yu Liu, PhD, Los Alamos National Laboratory; And Cedomir Petrovic, Ph.D., of Brookhaven National Laboratory.

About the University of Texas at El Paso

The University of Texas at El Paso is America’s leading Hispanic-serving university. Located at the westernmost tip of Texas, where three states and two countries meet along the Rio Grande River, 84% of our 24,000 students are Hispanic, and more than half are the first in their families to attend college. UTEP offers 171 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs at America’s only premier open-access research university.

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