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April 27, 2005

Matt Lindsay: (202) 994-1423;
Dova Wilson: (703) 726-3652; 


Discovery Offers Benefits to Magnetic Industry and Broader Scientific and Engineering Communities

ASHBURN, Va.--Two faculty members at The George Washington University report a newly observed phenomenon that extends a fundamental law of physics to magnetic nanostructures, extremely small magnetic particles about one-billionth of a meter in size, in the April 15 edition of Physical Review Letters.

Edward Della Torre, director of GW's Institute for Magnetic Research and professor of engineering and applied science, and Lawrence H. Bennett, research professor of engineering and applied science, discovered that when plotting magnetization as a function of decreasing temperature the curve was no longer evenly sloped as predicted by the Bloch T 3/2 law. Rather it showed a subtle upturn of the magnetization curve in the 10-50 K temperature range. They explain these visible anomalies in the law using the Bose-Einstein condensation theory, first predicted by Satyendra Nath Bose and Albert Einstein in 1924.

These findings have practical applications for manufacturers of products using magnets, such as computer hard drives, as well as broader implications for the fields of physics, chemistry, and engineering. "One practical application of our discoveries would be to use this information to improve the way the life cycle of computer hard drives is modeled," said Della Torre. "The magnets in hard drives effect whether the information on a hard drive will be stored for 10 minutes, 10 days, or 10 years, so it is important to both manufacturers and consumers to have a model that rapidly and accurately predicts how long a hard drive will last."

Della Torre and Bennett's article about these observations, "Extension of the Bloch T 3/2 Law to Magnetic Nanostructures: Bose-Einstein Condensation" appears in Physical Review Letters, a prestigious physics journal published by The American Physical Society. It is the collaborative work of the pair, along with their colleague R.E. Watson of the Brookhaven National Laboratory, Department of Physics in Upton, N.Y.

GW's Institute for Magnetics Research, located at the University's Virginia Campus, focuses its work on modeling, experimental measurements, and the use of magnetic materials. The materials most commonly studied are magnetic recording media, magneto-optical media, and magnetostrictive materials. Applications include computer hard drives, floppy disks and read/write memories, microwave devices, magnetostrictive transducers, and magnetic refrigeration. The institute has conducted research projects with the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, the National Science Foundation, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, DARPA, IBM, Fuji, and ANSYS Software.

The George Washington University Virginia Campus offers graduate courses and academic and research initiatives in transportation safety and security, public health and homeland security, professional and executive education, and information technology and telecommunications. The 14-year old campus, located 12 miles west of Tyson's Corner, comprises 95 acres in the Ashburn community of Loudoun County.

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