The synthesis, characterization, and understanding of novel magnetic materials are a subject of much interest in science, with important applications in the computer industry. However, at the undergraduate level, few students are introduced to these magnetic materials or the experimental methods used to study them. This proposal will address this need through the acquisition of a modem vibrating sample magnetometer and the adaptation of relevant experiments. The magnetometer will be used with undergraduate students at several levels-in an introductory course on the chemistry and physics of computer materials, in intermediate and advanced chemistry and physics laboratory classes, as well as in student research projects. In the introductory class, students will examine the magnetic hysteresis behavior in samples taken from computer hard disk drives and floppy disks. In the laboratory classes, the nature of anisotropy, magnetic ordering, and superconductivity effects will be investigated in magnetic wires and rare earth oxides. Students in undergraduate research experiments will study new intermetallics, nanocrystalline semiconductors, and magnetic films in a variety of temperature and magnetic field conditions. These hands-on experiences will aid our students' understanding of magnetism and its importance in technology and will aid an ongoing effort to incorporate materials science into the curriculum. Since few undergraduate institutions have modem magnetometry equipment, this facility will serve as a model of interdisciplinary teaching and research in magnetism. Results will be shared through journal publications and through affiliations with the Great Lakes College Association and Project Kaleidoscope.
A hands-on learning approach to understanding magnetic materials