Some Current Research Trends In Magnetism
Ideally pure magnetic systems have provided the most extensively investigated models of the large scale collective behavior of atoms and electrons that occur in the vicinity of the critical point of phase transitions. More recent studies have unearthed fascinating effects caused by the intentional introduction of impurities and defects into random locations in the atomic lattice of a magnetic material. For example, these random magnetic systems display transitions to states of order that have no counterparts in pure systems, because pure systems are, by necessity, always close to thermodynamic equilibrium or stability. For these reasons there is now intense interest and research activity in disordered systems, and random magnets provide ideal model systems for such investigations.
An area of intense current activity centers around the search for a likely magnetic pairing force in the high temperature ceramic superconductors that were discovered in 1987 by the German-Swiss team of Georg Bednorz and Karl Alexander Muller. A superconductor achieves a zero resistance state by means of a force field that pairs up the conducting electrons within its atoms. The new ceramic materials are antiferromagnets in their undoped state, but on doping start to superconduct at temperatures that are over 182°F (83°C) warmer than conventional pure metal and alloy superconductors.
The effects of extremely high magnetic fields on the properties of condensed matter continues to be an area of high interest. New research areas, such as the search and study of magnetism in organic matter, and the study of diamagnetism and novel magnetic effects in the recently synthesized nanometer-sized (a nanometer is equal to 10-9 meter) carbon tubes, are of increasing interest to physicists and material scientists.
Chikazumi, S. Physics of Magnetism. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., 1984.
Newton, R.G. What Makes Nature Tick? Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993.
Clarke, J. "SQUIDs." Scientific American (August, 1994): 46-53.
Cox, D.L. and M.B. Maple. "Electronic Pairing in Exotic Superconductors." Physics Today (1995): 32-40.
"Materials Science in High Magnetic Fields." Materials Research Society Bulletin 27 (1993).