A lot of great science happens at the National MagLab every year. Here’s a list of the best interdisciplinary research enabled by our world-record magnets in 2015.

From nanorockets to nanocages, good science can come in tiny packages — all with the aim of solving really big problems.

A lot of the research conducted in powerful magnets ends up having a powerful effect on our day-to-day lives.

The high-tech tools empower scientists studying petroleum and other molecules to make decisions based on advanced data analysis.

This week at the lab, we’re turning up the heat.

Really high.

It's summer at MagLab headquarters in Tallahassee, Fla., and the mercury's rising accordingly. But things are really sizzling in our Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Magnetic Resonance Imaging / Spectroscopy Facility thanks to our new high-temperature laser probe.

At the MagLab, scientists attach the samples they are studying to fancy sticks called probes that they then insert into our powerful magnets. In addition to getting specimens into the magnet, many probes have specific capabilities that allow researchers to get the data they need to answer important scientific questions about materials, energy and life.

The unique capability of the new laser probe is to heat the sample up to a blistering 850 degree Celsius (1,562 degrees Fahrenheit), thanks to a laser beam about a millimeter wide. That alone is pretty cool — errr, hot. But on top of that, it spins the sample around 5,000 times a second, which results in data with much higher resolution data.

The new probe, made by Bruker Biospin Corp., is only the third of its kind in the world, said MagLab chemist Yan-Yan Hu.

"This is the first one in the United States," Hu said. "It's going to be exciting for people to do research that they haven't been able to do before."

Most of those scientists will be doing energy-related research on high-efficiency batteries and fuel cells that operate at intermediate to very high temperatures.

The new probe, to be used with the lab's 500 MHz 89 mm NMR magnet, is a big improvement on previous high-temperature probes, which used gas to heat up the sample. Those probes also had the unwanted consequence of warming up the probe's electronics as well as the magnet.

At the MagLab, we prefer the superconducting magnets to stay pretty cold.

The science, however, is always red hot.


Text and photo by Kristen Coyne.

Scientists can now observe lithium moving through an electrolyte in real time.

Looking for better ways to power electronics, topological semimetals may hold the answer.

Across disciplines, exciting stuff happens along the boundaries between things. What makes those realms so rich for research, and how do magnets shed light on them?

By manipulating plasma with magnets, scientists are creating the same kind of energy produced by stars.

MagLab-affiliated researcher and FAMU-FSU College of Engineering faculty member Subramanian Ramakrishnan has received a prestigious Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) grant from the National Science Foundation.

The five-year, $4.9 million grant will establish the Center for Complex Materials Design for Multidimensional Additive Processing (known as the CoManD Center). This new center will tap into expertise of researchers at Florida A&M Univeristy (FAMU), the College of Engineering and the National MagLab to advance manufacturing at the micrometer scale for biological, aerospace and energy applications.

In association with the National MagLab, Ramakrishnan will direct the center’s first project, which focuses on developing nanostructured lightweight materials for shielding and sensing applications. Industrial Engineering Professor Tarik Dickens will direct the center’s second subproject, which will consist of developing materials/devices for energy applications in association with the High Performance Materials Institute. Pharmaceutics Professor Mandip Singh Sachdeva will direct the center’s third subproject, which includes developing materials/devices for biological applications such as a 3D printed tumor biosystem on a chip.

"The uniqueness of this award is the synergy between universities, national labs and defense labs," Ramakrishnan explained.

In addition to research, the grant will help support undergraduate courses based on the fundamentals of self-assembly, nanoparticle synthesis and characterization, additive manufacturing, nanomaterials in biology, and nanoparticles in medicine. The courses will be developed and offered to FAMU students. Also, a laboratory course in materials will be offered to graduate and undergraduate students involved in materials research. The center will work to produce 15 doctorate students, directly impact 40 undergraduates, and influence 100 graduate students and 300 additional undergraduates through collaborations and coursework.

Story by Kristin Roberts.