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UTEP Researchers Improve Magnets for Computing

EL PASO, Texas (Nov. 20, 2023) – As demand rises for increased data storage and faster-performing computers, researchers are creating a new generation of materials to meet consumers’ expectations.

Led by Physicist Srinivasa Singamaneni, Ph.D., (front) a team has discovered a new type of magnet that can be used in quantum computing. The magnet works in temperatures of up to 170-degrees Fahrenheit.
Led by Physicist Srinivasa Singamaneni, Ph.D., (front) a team has discovered a new type of magnet that can be used in quantum computing. The magnet works in temperatures of up to 170-degrees Fahrenheit.

“How can we design new materials so that they can store data with less volume, less cost and using less power?” asked Srinivasa Singamaneni, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Physics at The 山ּ of Texas at El Paso 

The answer may be in a new type of magnet discovered by Singamaneni and UTEP physicists.

“Many researchers are exploring quantum magnets to revolutionize the future of computational power,” Singamaneni said. “Lots of tools use traditional magnets — laptops, speakers, headsets, MRI scanners — and these magnets can be replaced by quantum magnets one day.”

 Singamaneni, the lead author of the new study, has been working on a class of magnets known as van der Waals magnets since 2021. The new 2D magnets — which have a length and width but are only one layer thick — have huge potential in the computing world because of their tiny size, Singamaneni said.

 Van der Waals magnets, however, have only ever worked at temperatures below freezing — until now.

Alongside a team of scientists from Stanford 山ּ, The 山ּ of Edinburgh, Los Alamos National Lab, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Brookhaven National Lab, Singamaneni has discovered that adding a low-cost organic material — known as tetrabutylammonium — between the magnet’s atomic layers allows the magnet to work in temperatures of up to 170-degrees Fahrenheit.

“Van der Waals magnets don’t have practical applications right now because of their temperature constraints,” Singamaneni said. “My approach is unique because we’ve shown that a simple chemical treatment to a distinct magnet can push boundaries of 2D magnetism; this could be quite transformative for the industry.”

The team has demonstrated the magnet’s potential at the lab level but plans to continue studying and perfecting the material for use in computing.

Additional authors on the study are UTEP alumnus Hector Iturriaga, now at Stanford 山ּ; UTEP graduate student Luis M. Martinez and UTEP scientists Sreeprasad Sreenivasan, Ph.D., and Mohamed Sanad, Ph.D.; NIST scientists Thuc Mai, Ph.D., Adam Biacchi, Ph.D., and Angela Hight Walker, Ph.D.; 山ּ of Edinburgh scientists Mathias Augustin, Ph.D., and Elton Santos, Ph.D.,; Los Alamos National Lab’s Yu Liu, Ph.D.; and Cedomir Petrovic, Ph.D., of Brookhaven National Lab. 

About The 山ּ of Texas at El Paso

The 山ּ of Texas at El Paso is America’s leading Hispanic-serving university. Located at the westernmost tip of Texas, where three states and two countries converge along the Rio Grande, 84% of our 24,000 students are Hispanic, and more than half are the first in their families to go to college. UTEP offers 171 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs at the only open-access, top-tier research university in America.

Last Updated on November 17, 2023 at 2:00 PM | Originally published November 17, 2023

By MC Staff UTEP Marketing and Communications