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Royal Honour for the Inventor of Permanent Magnets

February 2022 | Innovation

Permanent magnets made of rare earths are used in many technical devices, from electric cars to headphones and wind turbines. Demand for the super magnets is growing steadily, and it is estimated that the market for neodymium-iron-boron magnets will grow from $12.5 billion in 2020 to $25 billion by 2030. The invention of these permanent magnets dates back to the 1980s and is now considered a technological revolution. The Japanese researcher Sagawa Masato played a key role in their creation.

Masato invented an alloy of the rare earth element neodymium, iron and boron, and the magnets made from it were particularly strong while being small in volume and weight. This in turn led to a breakthrough in the manufacture of small and powerful motors. For the development and commercialization of neodymium-iron-boron magnets, Sagawa Masato was honored with this year’s Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering. The award is considered the Nobel Prize of engineering.

Record-breaking new super magnet made of rare earths

Progress in magnet technology, meanwhile, keeps moving forward. Researchers are already working on next-generation rare-earth magnets. Recently, scientists at the University of Berkeley built a magnet that is three times stronger than previously known magnets. This increase in power was made possible by the use of the rare earth elements dysprosium and terbium, which act even more strongly in combination than neodymium. A detailed description of the physical discovery is provided by the news portal rawmaterials.net.

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