Magnetic materials and innovation: past, present and future (part 1)
The revolutionizing effects of magnetic materials of today: a reflection of
Magnetism in Every-day life
The historical value of magnetism
What do you imagine when you read or hear the word magnetism? Magnets and
magnetism are all around us and affect our lives much more than in the form of
souvenirs stuck onto the refrigerator door.
Magnetism is a physical phenomenon known for more than 3,500 years. Around
600 BC, Táles of Miletus was the first to deal with it scientifically. He
described the attractive interaction between magnetite and iron. The Chinese
were able to use magnetite in the construction of a simple compass in the shape
of a spoon on a bronze plate, the handle of which pointed to the south (around
Magnetism has developed vastly since then. Now, we know more and more about
magnetic materials and magnetism itself (i.e. magnetization processes, basic
theoretical overview, Barkhausen noise, etc.). Moreover, through the way,
magnetism helped the development of understanding and batter using other
physical phenomenons as well, like electricity (i.e. Dynamic Theory of
Electromagnetic Field), scientific and technical instruments, etc.
After the Second World War, the rapid development of computers took a boost,
and here the main storage medium was again magnetic material. It started with
ferrite cores, continued with magnetic tapes, through floppy disks and hard
drives, which we use to this day.
New Magnetic materials and their effect on the
We currently recognize 4 main directions in the development of new magnetic
materials: spintronics, storage media, sensors, and materials for
Spintronics is a new field of electronics, where information
is transmitted not only by electric charge but also by magnetic moment. The
rapid development of spintronics occurred in the 1980s with the discovery of a
huge change in electrical resistance due to the magnetic field („Giant Magneto
Resistance“ – GMR). One of the huge advantages of such a GMR member is that
it can be produced in very small dimensions – of the order of approx. 10 nm.
They realized this in the early 1990s also in IBM and produced miniature readers
based on the GMR phenomenon , which allowed a sharp increase in the
capacity of Harddisks and thus the entire computer industry. Currently, all
modern computers that you see around you use read headers based on GMR phenomena
in hard disks. The discovery of the GMR phenomenon eventually proved to be so
important that it was also awarded the Nobel Prize in 2007 by prof. Grunberg
and prof. Ferto.
Memory and Storage: If you know virtually nothing about
computers or the memory principles, and the hardeners used in them, you still
must have heard about the “RAM” (Random Access Memory) somewhere. Well, this
hasn’t been developed without the help of magnetism neither. See the
scientists and engineers realized that the GMR phenomenon could be used not only
to construct read heads but also to produce ready-made memory, where each unit
and zero is represented by one GMR member. Magnetic Random Access Memory – MRAM has appeared. These
combine the benefits of a large capacity Hard Disk, fast access to RAM-like
information, and the ability to read and write them indefinitely (unlike SSDs,
where you can write many times, but not indefinitely).
Materials for energy: The main challenge here that can be
addressed through magnetism is materials for electromobility. These will not be classic transformer
sheets, properties of which do not suit working at higher frequencies. One of
the possibilities would be the use of modern powder materials, which have the
advantage of powdered ferrites (small eddy currents and therefore significantly
lower losses) but have a higher magnetic saturation compared to them. Pressing
enables the production of materials in the final form, without the need for
additional machining (as in the case of sheets).
Sensors: In addition to new memories and spintronics,
another major trend in magnetic materials is the development of sensors. This is
also what we as RVmagnetics are most passionate about. The modern world will be
based on the Internet of Things, where every object will be monitored through
the Internet. To achieve proper accuracy, comfort, and most importantly safety in IoT – we need the development of sensors that
are robust, easy to manufacture, and versatile.
Magnetic materials offer the possibility of contactless, non-destructive
sensing of several parameters (pressure, temperature, vibration, magnetic field,
etc.). This allows them to be inserted inside materials and objects. Using
modern physical phenomena and processes, it is then possible to develop miniature sensors and read measured quantities from a greater
Even in heavy industry, magnetic materials and sensors developed from those
materials prove to be extremely useful. Modern magnetometers can capture
(provide measurements from) magnetic materials even in difficult conditions of
coal mines, from within battery units, during composite material manufacturing
and post-manufacturing, in electric motors, etc.
Biocompatible glass-coated magnetic microwires can be used to measure
intracranial temperature and pressure after implantation of a titanium
prosthesis. Using modern physical phenomena, it is possible to measure
temperature with sensitivity to 0.01°C (R.Varga CPM TIP UPJŠ +
The microwires can also be inserted into composite layers (or glued onto
them) and provide real-time contactless measurements during and
There is a lot to be explored in magnetism as such. We as RVmagnetics are
here to solve the measurement needs of our clients using magnetic principals and
miniaturized magnetic sensors; revolutionizing the measurement industry by
bringing something new to the table with basic magnetic principles known to
humanity for more than 3,500 years.