The National Synchrotron Light Source — and eventually NSLS-II — will play an essential role in a new $2.9-million project funded by the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The project is one of 60 cutting-edge research projects announced by ARPA-E on September 29; all are aimed at dramatically improving how the U.S. produces and uses energy.
Brookhaven Lab is part of a consortium led by Virginia Commonwealth University to discover and design a new class of permanent magnets that do not contain any rare-earth elements, hard and expensive to get. The team plans to fabricate a carbide-based composite magnet that will match the best commercial magnets in performance, while costing significantly less. Their ultimate goal is to demonstrate this new magnet in a prototype electric motor.
A co-principal investigator on the project, Dario Arena, Photon Sciences Directorate, will use NSLS beamlines U4B and X18B to investigate the magnetic properties and atomic structure of all materials being developed. The process will be iterative -- as the project team designs new materials, Arena will lead the work at NSLS to probe their magnetic properties and atomic structure so that the materials can be improved.
“At NSLS, we have very specialized techniques,” said Arena. “U4B is one of two beamlines that can do x-ray magnetic circular dichroism, a way of getting element-specific information on the magnetic properties of materials.” He added that beamline X18B can probe the nanoparticle composites of new materials with XAFS, a technique that reveals local structure around a particular element.
“We have also been thinking about moving the work to NSLS-II, where we can focus the beam so much better,” Arena said. He explained that measuring very small amounts of materials is a big challenge, made easier at the new facility.
In addition to Brookhaven Lab and Virginia Commonwealth University, the consortium also includes Arnold Magnetic Technologies, Bayer Technology Services, Moog Inc., Northeastern University and University of California-San Diego.
- Mona S. Rowe, Photon Sciences Communications Manager