Los Alamos National Labs with logo 2021

Mineral Magnetism

By understanding what makes a material magnetic, scientists want to create new strongly magnetic materials that don’t rely on hard-to-get precursor elements.
March 8, 2016
Small piles of rare earth elements

In the United States, rare-earth elements used in strong magnets, such as neodymium and samarium, are scarce due to limits on foreign sources. CREDIT: Peggy Greb/U.S. Department of Agriculture

“We don’t want dependence on hard-to-get materials to impede the progress of green technologies.”

Strong magnets are used in many green technologies, such as wind energy and hybrid cars, but these magnets require rare-earth elements, which are increasingly difficult to acquire.

By first seeking to understand what makes a strong magnet and then applying those principles to the design of new strongly magnetic materials, scientists are closing in on novel rare-earth-free magnets. With green energy becoming ever-more necessary, the timing couldn’t be better.