New materials are already being used in medicine, construction, power generation, electrical engineering and the automotive industry. The Czech Republic takes research in this area seriously and is investing in it.
In March this year, scientists in Olomouc issued a surprising report. Magnets do not have to be made only of metal! Using graphene, a super-thin form of carbon, they produced the first non-metallic magnet that retains magnetic properties at room temperature. The scientists thus shattered an age-old rule, as all magnetic materials used up to now have been based on metals and metallic compounds. The research was published in the journal Nature Communications and it can be expected that in the coming years chemically modified graphene will be put to various uses in biomedicine and electronics.
“We had suspected for several years that the path to magnetic carbon may lead through graphene – a single two-dimensional layer of carbon atoms. By modifying graphene using other non-metallic elements such as fluorine, hydrogen and oxygen, we created new sources of magnetic moments, which communicate with each other astonishingly well, even at ordinary room temperature. This is a tremendous advancement in the possibilities of using organic magnets,” says leading Czech chemist Radek Zbořil, director of the Regional Centre of Advanced Technologies and Materials (RCATM) in Olomouc.
Numerous scientific results and concepts have “poured” from this research institute at Palacký University in recent years. Besides Zbořil, Michal Otyepka, who was recently awarded a prestigious ERC Consolidator Grant for his “2D chemistry” project, is also working on the development of nanostructures, materials and modified graphene. One of the most cited Czech scientists, quantum chemist Pavel Hobza, also works at the centre. In short, things are happening in the Olomouc region.
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