april 2012




Feature Articles



Designing New Magnet Technology - A Multiphysics Challenge

Recently, AML developed a new magnet topology, Direct Double-Helix (DDH) magnets, which allow for a significant increase in power density, performance in field generation and field quality. The unique characteristics of the DDH magnets, part of the Double- Helix (DH) magnet family invented by AML’s founder, Dr. Rainer Meinke, could lead to more affordable ...

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Ten Steps for Developing the Kipawa Heavy Rare Earth Deposit

Rare earth projects are inherently different from commodities such as gold, silver and the base metals. While the demand for base metals is driven by mature sectors with average growth, the rare metals are in demand in new sectors such as electric and hybrid cars, energy efficient lighting and displays, as well as alternative
energy such as windmills, all of which should experience above-average growth in the years to come...

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Research & Development


Nanoscale Magnetic Media Diagnostics by Rippling Spin Waves
nistMemory devices based on magnetism are one of the core technologies of the computing industry, and engineers are working to develop new forms of magnetic memory that are faster, smaller, and more energy efficient than today’s flash and SDRAM memory. They now have a new tool developed by a team from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the University of Maryland Nanocenter and the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden—a method to detect defects in magnetic structures as small as a tenth of a micrometer even if the region in question is buried inside a multilayer electronic device.


The technique demonstrated at the NIST Center for Nanoscale Technology (CNST) builds on work by researchers at the Ohio State University. The idea is to trap and image oscillating perturbations of a magnetic field, “spin waves”, in a thin film. Trapped spin waves provide scientists with a powerful new tool to nondestructively measure the properties of magnetic materials and search for nanoscale defects that could or have caused memory failures, especially in multilayer magnetic systems like a typical hard drive, where defects could be buried beneath the surface.


According to NIST researcher Robert McMichael, when left alone, the material’s magnetization is like the surface of a pond on a windless day. The pond is comprised of smaller magnetic moments that come with the quantum mechanical “spin” of electrons. Tap the surface of the pond with a piece of driftwood, or microwaves in this case, and the surface will begin to ripple with spin waves as the microwave energy jostles the spins, which, in turn, jostle their neighbors.


“The trick we play is to tune the microwaves to a frequency just outside the band where the spin waves can propagate—except right under our magnetic probe tip,” says McMichael. “It’s like the pond is frozen except for a little melted spot that we can move around to check magnetic properties at different spots in the sample.”

The trapped spin waves are disturbed by defects in the material, and this effect allows the defects to be characterized on 100 nm length scales.


Previous work had shown this same effect in magnetic spins that were oriented perpendicular to the magnetic film surface, meaning that the individual spins coupled strongly with their neighbors, which limited the resolution. This new work adds the extra feature that the magnetic spins are aligned in plane with one another and are not as tightly coupled. This setup is not only more representative of how many magnetic devices would be structured, but also allows for tighter focusing and better resolution.









  Sponsored Announcement

mag2013Announcing Magnetics 2013

Magnetics 2013, taking place February 7-8 in Orlando, Fla., is an international, industry-leading conference focused on the latest economic developments and technical advancements in magnetics markets and technologies bringing together worldwide magnetics experts. This is a once-a-year opportunity for professionals involved in magnetics technologies to learn the latest advancements in magnetic applications, technology and materials as well as global issues of supply, demand and pricing of magnetic materials.


This annual conference will feature more than 25 presentations on the latest advancements in magnetic applications, technology and materials. Serving OEM developers of products that utilize magnets and magnet systems, design engineers, OEM developers involved in EMC technology and magnetic effects, magnetics manufacturers and integrators, and material suppliers in the magnetics industry.


Call for Presentations deadline is July 19th.


Contact Sue Hannebrink for sponsorship/exhibitor information.


  New Products

MEDER electronic, Inc. MMS - 2.8 mm Implantable MEMS Reed Sensors Need No Power

mederA new, ultra-small magnetically actuated reed sensor that requires no power and is designed for switching CMOS gates and other low power signal switching devices such as implantable medical pacemakers and insulin pumps is being introduced by MEDER electronic.


MEDER MMS Reed Sensors are magnetically actuated on/off sensors that feature no power draw and measure only L2.8mm[0.110”]  x W2.05mm [0.080”] x H1.2mm [0.047"].  Designed for switching low power devices where size is critical, they are available with magnetic sensitivity ranges from 1-4 millitesla and are tested to withstand up to 15,000 G's shock from any direction.  Choose from 2 surface mount lead designs in a SPST-NO (Form A) version: lead design 1 (straight cut axial lead), and lead design 2 (Gull Wing).


Manufactured using semiconductor wafer technology, MEDER MMS Reed Sensors are supplied in tape and reel according to IEC 286/part 3, suitable for auto pick and place equipment. These SPST reed sensors have a switching voltage of 3 VDC max., with 109 insulation resistance across the contacts.  These reed sensors are EDS sensitive and RoHS compliant.  Available today at Digi-Key Corporation.

lakeshoreLake Shore Introduces Model 350 Ultra Low Cryogenic Temperature Controller
Lake Shore Cryotronics, Inc. has introduced the Model 350 ultra-low cryogenic temperature controller. The Model 350 is a powerful physics tool specifically designed to provide improved measurement and control in a wide range of cryogenic physics research applications, including those conducted in high magnetic field and radiation environments.


The full-featured four-input Model 350 cryogenic temperature controller is a world-class refrigeration control solution capable of using very low excitation power. It is designed for the demands of pumped helium-3 refrigerators and similar advanced research platforms. The Model 350 controller provides improved measurement and control accuracy and convenient operation in any cryogenic system from 100 millikelvin (mK) to more than 1000 kelvin (K). Users are guaranteed improved performance even at extremes, and the controller comes with Lake Shore’s full three-year standard warranty to add to customer confidence.


Optimized for use with Lake Shore’s popular and dependable Cernox sensors, the standard Model 350 also supports ruthenium oxide, platinum resistance temperature detectors, and other negative temperature coefficient sensors. The number and type of sensors can be further expanded with a choice of option cards. The Model 350 can automatically switch between different sensor inputs as needed to cover broader measurement ranges, providing continuous measurement.


A variety of features makes the Model 350 well suited for use in ultra-low temperature research applications. Patented low-noise input circuitry enables super low excitation currents for minimal self-heating and high resolution measurement while eliminating errors from grounding inconsistencies.

Four controlled outputs include a powerful 75 W warm-up heater, 1 W sample heater, and two additional 1 W outputs for controlling auxiliary systems. The unit features Lake Shore’s proven user-friendly interface for intuitive setup and simple operation. Temperature control loop auto-tuning facilitates automated set up of control parameters. Remote communications and control using Ethernet, USB, and IEEE-488 interfaces makes for convenient system integration and application coordination. In short, the Model 350 cryogenic temperature controller brings a new level of power, precision, and performance to critical low temperature physics research.

New 120 kHz Bandwidth, High Voltage, 3.3 Volt Current Sensor IC with Integrated Overcurrent Detection
allegroAllegro MicroSystems, Inc. has released an open loop Hall-effect sensor IC with near closed loop performance (in accuracy and bandwidth). Allegro’s ACS716 current sensor IC provides an economical and precise means for current sensing applications in industrial, commercial and communications systems. The device is offered in a small footprint surface mount package that allows easy implementation in customer applications, and is optimized for 3.3 V supply operation.


The ACS716 consists of a precision linear Hall sensor integrated circuit with a copper conduction path located near the surface of the silicon die. Applied current flows through the copper conduction path, and the analog output voltage from the Hall sensor IC linearly tracks the magnetic field generated by the applied current. The accuracy of the ACS716 is maximized with this proprietary packaging configuration because the Hall element is situated in extremely close proximity to the current to be measured.


High level immunity to current conductor dV/dt and stray electric fields, offered by Allegro proprietary integrated shield technology, guarantees low ripple at output and low offset drift in high-side, high voltage applications. The voltage on the overcurrent input (VOC pin) allows customers to define an overcurrent fault threshold for the device. When the current flowing through the copper conduction path (between the IP+ and IP– pins) exceeds this threshold, the open drain overcurrent fault pin will transition to a logic low state. Factory programming of the linear Hall sensor IC inside of the ACS716 results in exceptional accuracy in both analog and digital output signals.


The internal resistance of the copper path used for current sensing is typically 1 mΩ, for low power loss. Also, the current conduction path is electrically isolated from the low voltage sensor inputs and outputs. This allows the ACS716 family of sensor ICs to be used in applications requiring electrical isolation, without the use of opto-isolators or other costly isolation techniques.


The ACS716 is priced at $1.95 in quantities of 1,000.

brukerBruker Announces BNL, a Nitrogen Re-Liquefaction Accessory for More Efficient, Sustainable and Economic Magnet Operation in NMR
Bruker has released the BNL (Bruker Nitrogen Liquefier) accessory; available now for its Ascend NMR magnet product line up to 700 MHz. NMR customers can now benefit from extended cryogenic maintenance intervals for improved user convenience, increased flexibility for long-term experiments and lower cost of ownership.


The BNL can be installed on one of the magnet’s nitrogen ports enabling it to re-liquefy the nitrogen gas evaporating from the magnet dewar. The re-liquefaction process is essentially 100 percent efficient, ensuring near zero nitrogen boil-off for Ascend magnets up to 700 MHz. Operators of NMR equipment are freed from the weekly or bi-weekly routine of nitrogen filling, thus reducing cryogenic maintenance to helium refills only, which are typically spaced many months apart. The BNL features a Cryostat Monitoring Unit (CMU) ensuring easy visual status monitoring, while Bruker’s Magnet Information and Control Software (MICS) provides an overview of nitrogen level, pressure and cryocooler temperature.


The BNL development follows the success of the BSNL, the nitrogen reliquefaction accessory that has for several years enabled CryoProbe customers to use the extra cooling capacity of the latest generation CryoPlatform to re-condense the evaporating nitrogen gas from the magnet dewar . The new BNL is an add-on magnet accessory now offering the same benefits for systems without CryoProbes.


“We continuously explore new ideas to improve customer convenience and minimize cryogenic maintenance in NMR laboratories and we are thrilled that the BNL technology is now available for our Ascend magnet series. The BNL maximizes user convenience, avoids interruptions of long experiments, and lowers operational costs, all without compromising NMR performance,” said Dr. Daniel Eckert, VP for Magnet R&D at Bruker BioSpin in Faellanden, Switzerland.

Signal Transformer Announces New Line of SMD Power Inductors Available at Digi-Key
Signal Transformer (a subsidiary of Bel Fuse Inc.) and Digi-Key Corp. have entered into an agreement under which Digi-Key will distribute Signal's 150+ new series of SMD wire wound inductors to customers worldwide.

Signal's RoHS-compliant, Pb-free, SMD wire wound series of inductors are engineered for employment in a broad array of consumer and industrial power applications including test and measurement, automotive electronics, and industrial process control. Encompassing 2,700 standard part numbers, the shielded and unshielded devices are used in DC to DC converters, switch-mode and regulated power supplies, telecommunications equipment, mobile phones, small-size pagers, computers, LCD displays, printers and other peripherals. These inductors are also appropriate in audio and video applications, and in LC resonant circuits such as oscillators and signal generators. In addition, these parts are used in impedance matching, circuit isolation, and RF filters.


Available in extremely low-profile versions, these power inductors exceed industry standards for durability, thermal shock resistance, moisture, shock and vibration. They are capable of handling high peak transient currents without overload concerns. To optimize design flexibility, wide inductance ranges are offered in parts having the same footprint.


"Local access to Signal's SMD wire wound inductors is a tremendous asset to our customers," said Jeff Shafer, Digi-Key's vice president of global interconnect, passive, and electromechanical products. "Our ability to provide design, prototype, and production quantities will enable customers to accelerate time-to-market while ensuring the utmost in quality standards."


"Signal is very pleased to partner with a world class distributor having a global customer base and a reputation for superior service, competitive pricing, and on-time delivery,” said Sandy Axelrad, Signal's general manager. “We look forward to leveraging Digi-Key's experience and market reach, and are confident this distribution agreement will bring tremendous value to design engineers worldwide."

mdtMDT Releases TMR Magnetic Angle Sensors for Rotary Encoders
MultiDimension Technology Co., Ltd. (MDT) has released two Tunneling Magnetoresistance (TMR) magnetic angle sensors for use in a wide spectrum of industrial sensor applications, including rotary encoders, speed sensors, contactless potentiometers, and rotary position controllers for brushless DC motors (BLDC).

Designed with MDT’s unique TMR sensor technology and intellectual property, the MMA253F/MMA153F TMR magnetic angle sensors feature 360° angle measurement, high-amplitude robust output signals, and large air-gap tolerance. MDT’s TMR magnetic angle sensors lower the complexity of the signal processing circuitry.


“We are passionate about offering all the benefits of TMR sensor technology to our customers with multiple service options to best suit their needs,” said Dr. Song Xue, Chairman and CEO of MultiDimension Technology. “In addition to supplying TMR magnetic sensor chips, we are open to delivering entire system solutions upon request. We can custom-design TMR sensor wafers for high-volume customers to integrate with their own ASIC technology.”


Dr. Xue noted that MDT’s new TMR magnetic angle sensors reduce the overall system cost of rotary encoders because of their lower power, high precision, and large stable output signals. They provide a simple solution to integrate with analog or digital circuitry.


MDT’s TMR sensor technology combines the key benefits of existing magnetic sensor technologies such as AMR (Anisotropic Magnetoresistance), GMR (Giant Magnetoresistance), and Hall Effect, while overcoming their limitations, such as low signal sensitivity (Hall, AMR, and GMR), and design complexity for 360-degree measurement (AMR).


The MMA253F/MMA153F TMR magnetic sensors are immediately available for sampling. An evaluation toolkit, the MMA253F-EVL, is also available for users to assess the electrical and magnetic characteristics of the MMA253F sensor. The MMA253F-EVL toolkit provides an LCD display, a USB interface, and 12-bit digital outputs that can be used in absolute or incremental rotary encoders.

  Industry News

Molycorp's Rare Earth Reserves at Mountain Pass Increase by 36 Percent
Molycorp, Inc. has announced that its proven and probable reserves of rare earth minerals at its Mountain Pass, Calif. facility have increased by 36 percent, according to a new independent estimate.

The updated estimate, based on the SEC's rigorous "Industry Guide 7" definition of proven and probable mineral reserves, expands Molycorp's reserves to 18.4 million short tons of rare earth ore, at an ore grade of 7.98 percent and a cut-off grade of 5 percent.  This compares to a previous 2010 estimate of Molycorp's proven and probable reserves of 13.6 million short tons.  Both independent analyses were done by SRK Consulting of Lakewood, Colo., an industry mining consulting firm that specializes in such estimates.

SRK now estimates that the proven and probable component of Molycorp's ore body contains approximately 2.94 billion pounds (1.3 million metric tons) of contained rare earth oxide (REO) equivalent.  This compares to the previous estimate of 2.24 billion pounds of contained REO product (1.02 million metric tons).

"The SEC's Industry Guide 7 standard of measuring proven and probable reserves is the most rigorous standard in the industry, and the Mountain Pass ore body is one of the only rare earth deposits in the world that is measured by such a high standard," said Mark A. Smith, Molycorp's president and CEO. "I am pleased to see our world-class deposit continue to grow in size, and I believe that our ongoing exploratory drilling at Mountain Pass may show an even larger estimate of proven and probable reserves once that work is completed."

"It is noteworthy that the cutoff grade of 5 percent used by SRK far exceeds the head-grades of most other known rare earth projects around the world, which underscores the unique richness of our ore body," Smith added.

The updated estimate of Molycorp's reserves by SRK was based on an analysis of an updated mine plan that calculated material volumes, tonnes, in-situ grades, and concentrate tonnes. The SRK analysis took into account data from exploratory drilling conducted in 2010.  

The SEC Guide 7 standard of measurement used by SRK measures proven and probable reserves.  This standard differs from the NI-43-101 standard, used by virtually all other rare earth companies, in that the NI-43-101 standard measures a potential ore body in terms of "measured, indicated and inferred resources."  Under SEC Guide 7, "inferred" material is treated as waste and is not included in the measurement of reserves, while NI-43-101 standard allows for the inclusion of inferred material as part of a potential resource.  Inferred resources are typically a much larger number in these estimates than measured and indicated resources.

Global Market for Terahertz Radiation Devices and Systems to Reach $127 Million in 2016 and $570 Million In 2021
According to a new technical market research report, Terahertz Radiation Systems: Technologies and Global Markets (IAS029B) from BCC Research, the global market for terahertz radiation devices and systems was valued at $83.7 million in 2011 and is expected to increase to $127 million in 2016, a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.7 percent. By 2021, BCC expects that market value to reach $570 million, a CAGR of 35 percent over that five-year period.


The terahertz radiation market can be broken down into five segments according to system type: imaging, spectroscopy, other sensors, communications, and computing.


The imaging segment accounted for $73 million in 2011 and is expected to increase at a CAGR of 0.7 percent to reach $75.7 million in 2016. Following 2016, the segment should experience a CAGR of 26.8 percent, reaching a value of $248.3 million by 2021.

The spectroscopy segment accounted for $10.7 million in 2011 and will increase at a CAGR of 7.4 percent to reach $15.3 million in 2016. The segment is expected to increase again at a CAGR of 7.4 percent to reach a value of $21.9 million by 2021.


While the remaining segments currently are small in terms of value, the sensors, communications, and computing segments are projected to have CAGRs of 58.8 percent, 213.8 percent and 29.4 percent, respectively, from 2016 to 2021.


Sandwiched between the optical on the short wavelength side and radio on the long wavelength extreme, the terahertz (THz) frequency range (also called the far infrared or submillimeter-wave region) has been the least explored and developed portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. The potential usefulness of THz radiation, with its ability to penetrate a wide range of nonconducting materials, has been known for a long time. The first images generated using THz radiation date from as far back as the 1960s.


Practical applications of THz radiation have been longer in coming, however, due to the so-called “terahertz gap.” That term refers to the technologies needed to generate, channel, and detect THz radiation subject to real-world constraints such as size, cost, and operating temperatures. Recent developments in THz radiation sources, detectors, and waveguides have started to close the terahertz gap, opening up a range of potential applications in transportation security, medical imaging, nondestructive testing, and other fields.

Great Western Minerals Group’s LCM Places Order for Second Rare Earth Strip Cast Furnace
Great Western Minerals Group Ltd. (GWMG) has announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Less Common Metals Limited (LCM) located in Birkenhead, UK, has signed the contract for the purchase of a second rare earth strip cast furnace.


The new strip cast furnace features similar design and output capacity as the first strip cast furnace unit purchased by LCM in 2011 and commissioned in January 2012.


"The purchase agreement stipulates that the furnace will be shipped from China prior to the end of November 2012 at which time it will be installed at LCM by a team of engineers comprised of our own technical staff and personnel from the furnace manufacturer,” said LCM Managing Director Ian Higgins. “The manufacturer was extremely complimentary about the level of technical competence and engineering support from LCM during the installation of the first furnace. The second strip cast furnace will increase the total production capacity of LCM to approximately 2,000 tonnes per annum of rare earth alloys."


"GWMG remains committed to the capacity expansion of LCM in response to demonstrated industry demand,” said GWMG President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Engdahl. “Twenty years of experience in the rare earth alloy industry on the part of LCM has meant a smooth transition in adding to our broad range of melting and reduction furnaces. That experience, combined with the planned output of rare earth materials from our Company’s Steenkampskraal operation, will enable GWMG to ramp up quickly in response to demand growth on the part of our global customer base."



Event Listings



May 8 – 10, 2012

Nuremberg, Germany


PCIM (Power Conversion Intelligent Motion) is Europe's leading meeting-point for specialists in Power Electronics and its applications in Intelligent Motion and Power Quality. From 08 – 10 May 2012, the industry's key international players will meet in Nuremberg. Get up-to-the-minute information on the newest trends and developments as well as state of the art solutions for your most challenging problems.  From power semiconductors, passive components, products for thermal management, sensors or servo-technology and the wide area of power quality and energy-management - PCIM offers a comprehensive and focused presentation of products! Benefit from the success of such a well established international exhibition with conference and tutorials. The exhibition is open for trade visitors from Tuesday, 8 May until Thursday, 10 May, from 09:00 until 17:00 hrs. Register for your free day ticket for PCIM Europe 2012:

emcwThe Electrical Manufacturing and Coil Winding Expo

May 9-10, 2012

Milwaukee, WI


The Electrical Manufacturing and Coil Winding Expo is designed specifically for electrical product manufacturers, designers, assemblers, and users. Exhibiting companies will display and demonstrate their latest innovations in electrical manufacturing and coil winding production, and test equipment, components, materials and services -- all designed to help you produce the best possible products at the lowest possible cost. A technical conference with presentations from industry leaders related to the latest design and manufacturing technologies of transformers, permanent magnets, AC/DC motors, electrical coils and components will provide you the best opportunity to stay current on the newest products and technologies.



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