Researchers use 3D printing to create novel helical nanomagnets.

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A multinational team of scientists led by Cambridge University’s Cavendish Laboratory has developed a new set of minuscule nanomagnets using 3D printing technology.

The nanomagnets are in the shape of a DNA-inspired double helix and were created using a proprietary 3D printing process.

This unusual structure, according to the researchers,

allows for significant magnetic field interactions between the helices in a way that has never been seen before.

Achieving 2D control

The 3D printed helices build microscopic topological structures in the magnetic field they generate by twisting around one another.
The researchers believe they can use this phenomenon to manipulate magnetic forces at the nanoscale,

paving the path for “next-generation” magnetic devices.

“This new capacity to create the magnetic field at this length scale allows us to define what forces will be applied to magnetic materials and to understand how far we can go with patterning these magnetic fields,”

says Claire Donnelly, the study’s first author.

We come closer to having the same level of control in two dimensions if we can manage those magnetic fields on the nanoscale.”

Limitations of 2D magnetic systems


Magnetic devices are essential to many aspects of our existence, even if we aren’t aware of them. Magnets are employed in a variety of applications, including energy generating, data storage, and everyday computing.

Unfortunately, because they are built on 2D magnetic systems, traditional computing devices are increasingly approaching their miniaturization limits.

As a result, the Cambridge team claims that there is significant interest in migrating to 3D magnetic systems to increase computation and data storage.

3D magnetic systems using 3D nanowire structures can have higher information densities (more storage with less physical space) and better overall performance.
“A lot of work has been done around a yet-to-be-established technique called racetrack memory, first proposed by Stuart Parkin,”

Donnelly continues.

The concept is to store digital data in the magnetic domain walls of nanowires to create high-reliability, high-performance, and high-capacity information storage devices.”

Up until now, transitioning to this new domain has been difficult due to the necessity to understand the impacts of scaling up to 3D on the magnetization and magnetic field of the systems.

As a result,

Donnelly and the rest of the team have been investigating

and developing novel methods to visualize 3D magnetic structures for the past few years.

They’ve also developed a magnetic material 3D printing process, which was utilised in this investigation.

Adding a third dimension to magnetization

The Cambridge team used the PolLux Beamline of the Swiss Light Source at the Paul Scherrer Institute to do their 3D measurements after the nanomagnets were 3D manufactured.

Soft X-ray laminography, a sophisticated X-ray imaging technology, is said to be the only beamline that offers it.

Observed difference with 3d helical magnets and 2D systems

The researchers discovered that the magnetization microstructure of their 3D manufactured helical magnets differed from that of 2D systems. Deformation was observed when pairs of walls between magnetic domains were discovered to be connected.

The walls were shown to rotate and ‘lock into place’ by attracting one another,

forming strong links between the helices of the printed magnets (much like the bonds in a DNA double helix).


“Not only did we find that the 3D structure leads to interesting topological nanotextures in magnetisation, where we are reasonably familiar to seeing such textures,” Donnelly explained,

“But we also found that the magnetic stray field showed exciting new nanoscale field configurations!”

The scientists will now investigate the construction of more sophisticated systems with three-dimensional magnetic fields after successfully 3D printing magnets with three-dimensional magnetization.

Particle trapping, imaging techniques,

and smart materials are among the areas where the research shows potential.

Magnetic materials can be 3D printed, allowing for the building of intelligent systems and a slew of new applications. Xiamen University researchers had previously 3D printed radio frequency (RF) probe heads capable of performing both normal and unusual Magnetic Resonance (MR) studies.

MRI scans are utilized extensively in scientific research, geological surveys, and clinical diagnostics.

Similar Studies

Researchers from the University of Grenoble earlier devised a method for 3D printing deformable magnetic fields in microstructures.

Magnetic microbeads are added to a normal two-photon polymerization (2PP) 3D printed object in this method.

The scientists were able to develop intricate nano-tweezers that could be handled with only an eye by

changing the properties of the materials as well as the orientation of the beads.


The paper titled ‘Complex free-space magnetic field textures induced by three-dimensional magnetic nanostructures’. contains more information about the subject.

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