Obscure elements scattered deep within the Earth have become critical to much of the technology we depend on today. But they are rare and hard to extract, so scientists are scrambling to find an alternative-- perhaps at the level of atomic particles.
One way to confront the tighter availability of the rare earth elements used in hybrid car magnets is to develop a sort of composite material for the magnets. SRJC chemistry professor Karen Frindell-Teuschler explains how that could work.
This approach is being explored because making nanoparticles from iron and other metals isn't just a matter of whittling down the molecules of the respective elements and then combining them. Frindell-Teuschler, says that was tried, but it didn't work.
This month's Science Buzz Cafe will feature Karen Frindell-Teuschler talking about rare earth elements and nanocomposite magnets Thursday night, March 8 at the French Garden Restaurant in Sebastopol at 7 pm.