Magnetic materials and devices for the 21st century: stronger, lighter, and more energy efficient

Adv Mater. 2011 Feb 15;23(7):821-42. doi: 10.1002/adma.201002180. Epub 2010 Dec 15.


A new energy paradigm, consisting of greater reliance on renewable energy sources and increased concern for energy efficiency in the total energy lifecycle, has accelerated research into energy-related technologies. Due to their ubiquity, magnetic materials play an important role in improving the efficiency and performance of devices in electric power generation, conditioning, conversion, transportation, and other energy-use sectors of the economy. This review focuses on the state-of-the-art hard and soft magnets and magnetocaloric materials, with an emphasis on their optimization for energy applications. Specifically, the impact of hard magnets on electric motor and transportation technologies, of soft magnetic materials on electricity generation and conversion technologies, and of magnetocaloric materials for refrigeration technologies, are discussed. The synthesis, characterization, and property evaluation of the materials, with an emphasis on structure-property relationships, are discussed in the context of their respective markets, as well as their potential impact on energy efficiency. Finally, considering future bottlenecks in raw materials, options for the recycling of rare-earth intermetallics for hard magnets will be discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Energy-Generating Resources* / economics
  • Hardness
  • Magnetics / economics
  • Magnetics / instrumentation*
  • Magnetics / trends
  • Nanotechnology / economics
  • Refrigeration