Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Ames Research Lab have been able to customize the performance of magnets by strategically replacing key atoms within the material of the magnet.
It’s a process similar to what bioengineers use when they add or delete genes to create synthetic organisms. A group of researchers successfully replaced key atoms in a magnetic compound with atoms of lutetium and lanthanum.
Researchers say the discovery may eventually help as scientists search for new exotic substances for use in high-tech products used today and for those in the future.
Researchers say – knowing how to identify key atomic positions is similar to understanding the roles specific genes play in an organism’s DNA sequence – and that knowledge could ultimately lead to materials by design.