Tiny material earns big grant for researcher

By Fiona Rotherham

The high-performance material could be used in a wide range of industries including areas such as inductive power transfer, radio communication, and electric motors. Image / Getty Images
The high-performance material could be used in a wide range of industries including areas such as inductive power transfer, radio communication, and electric motors. Image / Getty Images

A researcher working on a new nano-scale magnetic material 1000 times thinner than human hair has been awarded a grant under a fund aimed at turning clever ideas into commercial reality.

Jerome Leveneur, a researcher in the environment and materials division of GNS Science's National Isotope Centre, has been awarded $20,000 from the KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Fund.

The small scale of his magnetic material makes it perform better than conventional magnetic materials, which can be used to improve the energy efficiency of transformers and inductors.

"The material is highly flexible and can be manufactured in a range of different shapes, like 'magnetic Play-Doh' to make any size and shape, which is not the case with existing materials," Leveneur said.

The high-performance material could be used in a wide range of industries including areas such as inductive power transfer, radio communication, and electric motors.

GNS Science research manager Chris Kroger said the research was a potential game changer.

"His discoveries in new functional surfaces and materials and their application in sensor systems and manufacturing processes hold great promise to impact industry in a powerful way."

The researcher has lived in New Zealand for the past nine years after initially coming for an internship after completing his degree in mechanical engineering and associated technologies in France. He did a PhD in New Zealand and then accepted a job with GNS Science. Leveneur will use the grant and the help of students at Auckland University to work with manufacturers of transformers and inductors to produce commercially viable materials.

The Emerging Innovation Fund was launched last year by KiwiNet, a consortium of universities and Crown Research Institutes and agencies. The fund is open to early career researchers at universities and CRIs.

BusinessDesk receives some assistance from Callaghan Innovation to cover commercialisation of innovation.

- BusinessDesk

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