Permanent magnetic materials find wide applications in energy generation. The materials providing best performances (e.g., high energy product), such as NdFeB, contains a large weight percentage of rare earth metals. As rare earth materials are critical materials and is projected to face a shortage in supply, DOE has invested considerable resources to find substitute materials for the rare earth based permanent magnetic materials in a recent APRPA-E REACT call. Alnico, an alloy of Fe-Co-Ni-Al, had been the state-of-the-art permanent magnetic material prior to the discovery of rare earth permanent magnetic materials. Most recently, theoretical computation work has predicted an optimized model offering the best properties. However, the actual micro structure reported in literature differs from this prediction. Alnico is known to be composed of two nano phases: a bcc NiAl-rich matrix phase and an ordered B2 FeCo-rich phase. The project will be to understand the affect the various chemical changes have on the nanostructure of this alloy and provide new chemistries and processing based on this knowledge.
Mentor: Matthew Kramer, Scientist II and interim director, Division of Materials Sciences and Engineering, Ames Laboratory