ENGINEERING MAGNETIC TRANSITIONS AND MAGNETOCALORIC EFFECT IN RARE-EARTH TRANSITION METAL ICOSAGENIDES
thesisposted on 05.05.2020, 12:54 by George Agbeworvi
The global demand for energy of mankind, the ever-increasing cost of energy, and the expected depletion of fossil energy carriers within the next centuries urge the exploration of alternative and more sustainable ways to provide energy. The current quest for energy-efficient technologies for the replacement of existing cooling devices has made the magnetocaloric effect a field of current scientific interest. Cooling technologies based on magnetic refrigerants are expected to have a better environmental impact compared with those based on the gas compression-expansion cycle. This technology provides an alternative for refrigeration applications with advantages, such as high energy efficiency, environmental friendliness, and low power consumption. In search of promising magnetocaloric materials, several rare earth-depleted transition metal-based materials were designed and investigated.
In this work, RCrxAl2-x and RZnAl (R = Gd, Tb, Dy, Ho) belonging to the ternary rare-earth transition-metal Laves phases, were chosen as the starting point to establish the effect of valence electron concentration (VEC) on the magnetic behavior and magnetocaloric effect. Our result and the results from the previously studied RTAl phases (T = Cu, Ni, Co, Fe, Mn) shows that the perturbation of the valence electron concentration at the Fermi level is found to be the driving force that dictates the crystal structure, magnetocaloric and magnetic properties of these systems. Most notably, the decrease in the valence electron concentration at the Fermi level leads to an increase in the curie temperature.
In addition, we have further extended this theory to GdNiAl2 systems. GdNiAl2 is a known magnetocaloric material which exhibits an isothermal magnetic entropy change of ΔSM = 16.0 Jkg-1K-1 at TC = 28K under a magnetic field change from 0-5T. However, the low TC limits its application as a room temperature refrigerant. We, therefore, substituted Co for (Ni/Al) in the structure of GdNiAl2, intending to substantially perturb the position of the Fermi level of Ni since that will lead to a decrease in the VEC and hence elevate the TC. The study was also extended to another Icosagenides (Ga,), which saw the substitution of Ga for Al in GdNiAl2 and its Co substituted analogs. The Ga analogs exhibit complex magnetic behavior with a cascade (multiple) of magnetic transitions, as opposed to the rather simple magnetism of their Al congeners.