The magnets Conventional companies are hard and rigid but have made great contributions to society and modern industry, according to material scientist Thomas Russell of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, in the United States, which has managed to develop a kind of "magnets" flexible through a few drops of magnetic liquid.
But this award-winning innovator wondered what would happen if the magnets could be soft, fluid as liquid and malleable to adapt to a limited space.
In an article in 'Science' this week, he and the first author Xubo Liu of the Chemical Technology University of Beijing, along with others from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley, They explain the simple way they used to transform paramagnetic ferrofluids: simple metal particles suspended in a magnetic state.
These new drops of ferromagnetic liquid "They represent a milestone for further development of magnetic materials," says Russell. Their applications could lead to a revolutionary class of printable liquid devices for a variety of Applications, since artificial cells they provide therapies directed against Cancer until flexible liquid robots They can change their way to adapt to their environment.
This means that when applying a magnetic field Externally, scientists can control liquid devices manufactured in this way, such as waving the Harry Potter wand, he suggests, "which opens up promising areas of research and application as liquid actuators, liquid robotics and supply of active material. "
As the polymer scientist explains, the team used iron oxide nanoparticles in a special mixture of polymer and oil to transform the paramagnetic ferrofluid in the ferromagnetic state at room temperature. Due to the interactions of the mixture of nanoparticles and polymers, the ultra soft drop The resultant has magnetic properties similar to solid magnets but with liquid characteristics.
At the nanometer scale, traditional ferromagnetic materials become magnetic only in the presence of a magnetic field. Based on these special physical properties, ferrofluids are already used in electrical devices, medical applications, mechanical engineering and materials research, he says.
Russell, who is also a visiting professor at the Berkeley National Laboratory, adds that the technique extends scientific knowledge of magnetic materials and should encourage research into the deep mechanism of how liquid magnets are formed.
"This will facilitate the development of relatively advanced instruments and new material theories – predicts–. These amazing liquid magnetic materials will attract attention in biology, physics and chemistry. "
A thousand years ago, he reflects, European travelers used compasses made of magnetite excavated on Earth to explore and discover new continents. For centuries, people learned to build smart magnetic devices to improve the quality of life. "Such leaps in science and technology are always followed by a sudden appearance of a new material or theory," says Russell.
He and his colleagues hope that the new droplets of reconfigurable ferromagnetic liquid they describe will offer more possibilities of this type, such as magnetically-powered liquid robotics, liquid containers for supplying active material and information technology with liquid droplet patterns. programmable