We investigate the effect of the reduced dimensionality on two types of properties, mechanical and magnetic. Moreover, the role of nanometric dimensions in tailoring specific characteristics for possible technological applications are emphasised. In particular, the study of mechanical properties is focussed on increasing the ductility of nanometric intermetallic alloys while maintaining their great hardness by alloying them with different materials. Moreover, to find possible non-destructive failure tests in these materials, we try to correlate their structural,
mechanical and magnetic properties. From the purely magnetic point of view, we study antiferromagnetic-ferromagnetic exchange coupling in different kinds of systems. Thin film systems (bilayers or trilayers) allow us to study in a controlled fashion how different parameters (e.g. texture, roughness or layer thickness) affect the exchange coupling. These studies are aimed at improving the preparation of antiferromagnetic-ferromagnetic exchange coupled powders by means of industrial techniques (e.g. ball milling) as a new route to produce permanent magnets. Furthermore, the role
of nanometric inhomogeneities or crystallites in the mechanical and magnetic properties of bulk metallic glasses are also investigated to achieve an optimum alloy microstructure for best properties and an attempt will be made to prepare this best alloy in bulk form by powder atomisation and consolidation.
Likewise, new Mg-based nanopowders will be developed and nanocomposites structures, surfaces and interfaces before and after repeated hydrogenation cycles will be characterised. Metal hydrides offer a safe alternative medium for transmission and storage of hydrogen energy. An initial objective is to reach a better understanding of sorption-desorption kinetics, another objective is to elucidate the catalytic roles of oxide nanoparticles addition. Experimental Capabilities: In addition to most characterisation equipment available in large university facilities, this group has worked with several generations of calorimetric devices and is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment for isothermal, scanning calorimetry and differential thermal analysis. Also available are TGA devices, Thermomagnetic balances and various equipment for magnetisation measurements.