Development of Antiferromagnetic Heusler Alloys

Solutions for Critical Raw Materials Under Extreme Conditions (CRM-EXTREME)

Project details

Difficulties in the access to critical raw materials (CRMs) are expected to depress industrial sectors vital to Europe.

The Action focuses on the substitution of CRMs (like Cr, Co, Nb, W, Y) in high value alloys and metal-matrix composites used under extreme conditions of temperature, loading, friction, wear, corrosion, in Energy, Transportation and Machinery manufacturing industries.

The Action aims to set up a network of expertise to define the state of knowledge and gaps in multi-scale modelling, synthesis, characterization, engineering design and recycling, that could find viable alternatives to CRMs and promote the industrial exploitation of substituted materials.

The Action envisions a fully Sustainable Value Chain approach for:

  1. Machinery manufacturing industry<
  2. >
    1. Alternatives for Co and W in WC/Co cemented carbide wear resistant tool materials (Hard Metals and Cutting Tools)
    2. Alternatives for chromium- and tungsten-alloyed tool steels
  3. Energy Industry
    1. Reduction of Cr and Y in high-strength steel alloys
    2. Alternatives for Cr and other CRMs by hard, wear and corrosion resistant surface coatings
  4. Transportation Industry
  5. Alternatives for Nb in high-strength low-alloy (HSLA) steel (Automotive)
  6. Alternatives for high-temperature Ni-based superalloys (Aerospace)
A four-year Action oriented to strengthen collaboration between active researchers working in the different areas of investigation involving CRMs, is the most suitable initiative to seed the initial catalytic nucleus of growth for EU excellence in strategic CRMs substitution.

Funding agency

COST (CA15102, value: EUR 484,000)

Starting date

01/05/2016 (for 4 years).

Heusler Alloy Replacement for Iridium (HARFIR)

Project details

The proposed HARFIR project intends to develop antiferromagnetic (AF) Heusler alloy (HA) films to replace the antiferromagnetic alloy Iridium Manganes (IrMn), which has been widely used in all spin electronic devices including hard disk drives and next-generation magnetic memories. Accordingly the price of Ir has risen by a factor of 4 in the last five years and by more than a factor of 10 in the last decade. It is expected to soar perhaps by a factor of 100 due to its wider applications.

It is widely recognised that spin electronic technologies will displace volatile semiconductor memory technology within the next decade. Therefore the lack of availability of one crucial element from within the periodic table is a critical issue to be solved urgently.

We therefore aim to replace Ir to reduce the cost of an AF film by a factor of 10 as compared with the current IrMn. We will combine our expertise in ab initio calculations and HA film growth techniques to seek a highly anisotropic AF HA films. These films will be characterised both structurally and magnetically using synchrotron beamlines, high-resolution (scanning) transmission electron microscopy and highly sensitive electrical and magnetic measurement facilities available within the consortium. We will demonstrate a device concept with the developed AF HA films at the end of this project, showing an exchange bias greater than 1 kOe in sheet form and a blocking temperature greater than 300K.

To our knowledge we are the first group to realise the criticality of the position with regard to the supply of Ir. The developed AF HA films will be patented with the royalties shared equally among the partners in the Japan-EU consortium. The innovation within HARFIR is therefore extremely high.

Funding agency

European Commission (JST-EC DG RTD Coordinated Research Project "Development of New Materials for the Substitution of Critical Metals" (FP7-NMP-2013-EU-Japan), NMP3-SL-2013-604398, value: EUR 1,781,910)

Starting date

01/09/2013 (for 3.6 years).

Ending date

31/03/2017 (successfully completed).