University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering Annual Report 2003
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Materials Science and Engineering

Nano-spin lab setup
Dan van der Weide, Mark Rzchowski and Chang-Beom Eom

Researchers examine nano-spin devices
for next generation of electronics

An interdisciplinary team of researchers hopes to find insights into the next generation of electronic devices. The Nanoscale Interdisciplinary Research Team (NIRT) — led by Professor Chang-Beom Eom (seated) and consisting of Electrical & Computer Engineering Associate Professor Dan van der Weide (far left), Associate Professor of Physics Mark Rzchowski (center) — are investigating structures of nano-spin devices.

One of the most exciting aspects of current research on next-generation electronic devices focuses on the manipulation of spin, rather than just their electric charge. Such "magnoelectronic" devices have several advantages over traditional electronic devices, including non-volatility, faster switching, and higher density due to their simpler device structures.

Eom's research group grows novel single-crystal magnetic heterostructures, and uses x-ray diffraction at both extremely high temperatures (right) and extreme low temperatures to understand their detailed atomic arrangements. The goal of the NIRT effort is to understand the intrinsic phenomena governing spin transport at the nanoscale, and to develop new methods for its manipulation for future nanoscale spin-controlled devices.

The NIRT scientists recently received a four-year, $1.55 million grant from the National Science Foundation for their research efforts.

High-temperature superconductors show promise in commercial applications

High-temperature superconductors have the potential to be widely used in commercial applications, particularly in the area of power transmission cables, large electric motors, fault current limiters, generators, and transformers. That's because superconductors allow electricity to be conducted with almost no loss of energy. However, researchers continue to look for ways to make high-temperature superconductors like Bismuth (Bi)-2223 robust and reliable enough to utilize in everyday industrial environments.

Grainger Professor of Superconducting Materials and L.V. Shubnikov Professor David Larbalestier and Materials Science and Engineering Professor Eric Hellstrom received a three-year, $2.2 million research grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to increase the critical current density in the high-temperature super-conductor Bi-2223. Increasing the density of Bi-2223 is considered critical for the eventual use of the superconductor in industrial environments. Larbalestier and Hellstrom are both affiliated with the College of Engineering's Applied Superconductivity Center.

Software leads to thermodynamic advances for industry

Phase diagrams are critical in the development of new products and materials in the metallurgy industry. They essentially compute a temperature-composition diagram when two or more elements are combined. In other words, they can be thought of as a map that provides information on the microstructure of alloys at any given temperature and composition. Knowing the exact temperature and composition for alloys is critical when companies manufacture precise parts.

Wisconsin Distinguished Professor Austin Chang has developed easy-to-use computer software tools for developing phase diagrams and thermodynamic calculations. He has recently received two grants totaling nearly $750,000 for his research on thermodynamics of materials, one from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and another from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Phase diagrams are used extensively in the aerospace, automobile, and transportation industries, as well as general industrial manufacturers. Chang's software allows the extensive, and often complicated, development of phase diagrams to be calculated much more quickly, shortening the manufacturing time for new industrial products.


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Copyright 2003 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System
Date last modified: 03-Oct-2003
Date created: 03-Oct-2003