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  • Division of Permanent Magnets and Applications

Division of Permanent Magnets and Applications

  • The team

    The Group of Permanent Magnets and Applications is integrated in the Program Nanoscience for Critical Raw Materials of IMDEA Nanoscience and is constituted at present by:

    Prof. Alberto Bollero - Group Leader and Program Manager.
    Dr. Ester M. Palmero - Postdoctoral researcher.
    Dr. Cristina Navío - Postdoctoral researcher.
    Javier Rial - PhD student.
    Melek Villanueva - PhD student.
    Nadia A. Jiménez - PhD student.
    Daniel Casaleiz - PhD student.
    Noelia López - Technician (scientific laboratory).
    Javier de Vicente - Technician (robotics and automatism solutions).

    The Program Nanoscience for Critical Raw Materials (coordinated by Prof. Alberto Bollero) is working closely with the Program Nanomagnetism (coordinated by Prof. Julio Camarero) at IMDEA Nanoscience.

    Group of Permanent Magnets and Applications at IMDEA Nanoscience.

    From left to right: Noelia López, Daniel Casaleiz, Javier de Vicente, Dr. Ester M. Palmero, Nadia A. Jiménez, Prof. Alberto Bollero, Javier Rial, Dr. Cristina Navío, Melek Villanueva.

    The Group of Permanent Magnets and Applications is working on fundamental and applied aspects of permanent magnets with no or reduced content of critical raw elements (rare-earths). The scope is the complete or partial substitution of strategically and costly rare earths (Nd and Dy) in technological permanent magnets in close collaboration with EU industrial partners. The main research lines are:

    ◦ Systems under study: MnAl-based, MnBi, L10-FeNi, ferrites, hybrid ferrite/NdFeB systems.
    ◦ Preparation and characterization of model magnetic nanostructures: thin films and multilayers.
    ◦ Synthesis and study of isotropic nanocrystalline magnetic powders.
    ◦ Advanced 3D-printing technologies of permanent magnets and metallic materials.
    ◦ Recycling methods applied to permanent magnet waste and residues in industrial plants.
    ◦ Consulting solutions and measurements-testing services to technological centres and international companies.

    Scientific and technological initiatives coordinated by the Group:
    (i) EU M-era.Net Project “NEXMAG” (Ref. PCIN-2015-126) [www.nexmag.net]. This project has been designated Success Case by the M.ERA-NET network (https://m-era.net/success-stories/new-exchange-coupled-manganese-based-magnetic-materials-nexmag).
    (ii) Bilateral project “ENMA” (Ref. MAT2014-56955-R) between the Northeastern University Boston (Prof. Laura H. Lewis’ Group) and IMDEA Nanociencia, which also involves the company IMA S.L. (Barcelona).
    (iii) “3D-MAGNETOH” (Ref. MAT2017-89960-R) involving participation of IMA (Barcelona) and the Institute of Physics - Slovak Academy of Sciences (Slovakia).
    (iv) Supporting action “EUIN2017-88502”.

    Industrial collaborations:

    (a) Industrial project “GAMMA” with the Swedish company Höganäs, world-leading manufacturer of metal powders.
    (b) Innovation Fund (“Cheque Innovación”) by Regional Government of Madrid with the company RAMEM S.A. (Madrid).
    (c) Industrial collaboration “Bonded Magnets” with IMA S.L. (Barcelona).
    The Group is additionally participating in the project NANOFRONTMAG-CM (coordinated by Prof. Rodolfo Miranda, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid) [Ref. S2013/MIT-2850].
    In the past, the Group has coordinated the EU Project FP7 NANOPYME (Ref. 310516) and a bilateral German-Spanish action exploring the use of rare-earth/metal multilayers in new sensing devices.


  • Scope

    Magnetic materials are important in the production, transmission and use of electrical energy. It has become obvious over the years that an increased use of low carbon technologies is necessary to ensure a high living standard. Permanent magnets (PMs), used in multitude of technological applications, play a very important role in these efforts. Many nowadays applications traditionally use rare earth (RE)-based PMs, as no relevant problems in terms of availability or high and unstable pricing raised at the time of their implementation. The situation has dramatically changed in recent years due to an increased monopoly.

    This increased need of PMs in combination with the strategically geographical situation of REs make mandatory, first, an efficient and well focused use of these elements for specific purposes (high performing applications or micro-scalable devices) and, additionally, a reinforcement in the search of PMs alternatives in applications areas where the use of REs may be reduced or totally avoided.

    We work actively in collaboration with international research centers and companies in the search of improved and novel permanent magnet materials. Our research is based on three main pillars:

    • Development of basic research and its translation to industry and end-users.
    • Up-scalability of the procedures to avoid that achieved advances stop at the laboratory.
    • Sustainability through recycling and efficient use of the resources.


    Figure 1. Permanent magnets (PMs) in nowadays-technological applications: from energy generation, going through energy transformation and to devices. [Image: IMDEA Nanoscience]

    RE-free PMs, constituted by non-critical elements would contribute to solve the EU dependency of REs and would revert the situation of the PMs from the nowadays situation which is determined by the geographical distribution of the raw materials to a new market where the know-how and technological development will determine the market leader.

    The Group of Permanent Magnets and Applications works in close cooperation with recognized international research centres [Northeastern University Boston (USA), IFE (Norway), IPSAS (Slovakia)…] and well-established companies [Höganäs AB (Sweden), IMA S.L. (Spain)…] in the search of alternatives to RE-PMs and of more efficient and environmentally friendly synthesis and processing routes for PMs.

    Advanced 3D-printing technology is used by the Group for printing rare earth-free and hybrid Neo/ferrite PMs. Laser-assisted additive manufacturing, typically used for 3D-printing of metallic alloys, is not a feasible option for PMs due to the high temperatures achieved during processing. Thermally controlled 3D-printing makes use of PM/polymer composite filament to print magnetic elements. This approach intends to change the actual technological paradigm based on design of devices according to magnets with predefined geometries (in-catalogue), which lately limits their efficiency.


    Figure 2. Coercivity development in nanocrystalline MnAl particles achieved by the innovative rapid-milling procedure (30-270 s) followed by reduced-temperature annealing (365ºC/10min). Published in J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 50, 105004 (2017).


    Figure 3. Synthesis of metallic alloys by gas-atomization and preparation of the metallic/polymer composite by the solution casting method.


    Figure 4. 3D-printer used for high-density materials (PMs and metallic alloys). Photograph of metallic/polymer composite (filling factor: 80 wt%) and filament. 3D printed elements (hexagonal columns) prepared from the filament.


    Figure 5. Recycling of ferrite residues in a manufactory plant. The quality of the recycled ferrite powder has been tested and compared to that of the new starting ferrite material. The magnetic properties of the recycled powder not only match those of the starting material acquired by the company for the production of magnets but exceed them. A coercivity value 3.5 times larger than that of the new starting ferrite powder, accompanied by a 25% increase in remanence, makes this material a new and improved ferrite product to re-enter the production chain in the factory with an extended applications range. Extended information: ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 5, 3243 (2017)


     Figure 6. SEM image of Sr-ferrite sintered magnet prepared at IMA S.L. [Image: IMDEA Nanoscience]

  • Facilities

    The laboratories dedicated to permanent magnets are divided into five categories:

    • Synthesis and processing of magnetic powders and bulk magnets.


      High-energy ball milling devices; three small and large volume furnaces with operation under controlled atmosphere; pressing machine for compaction under magnetic field; humidity chambers for testing under extreme operation conditions.

    • 3D-Printing


    Different types of extruders and 3D-printing equipment for printing of polymers and composites (PM/polymer and metal/polymer).

    • Thin films growth capabilities.


    Molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) equipped with a full range of in-situ characterization techniques (XPS, UPS and LEED); two sputtering devices.

    • Magnetic characterization.


    Vectorial vibrating sample magnetometer (v-VSM) with possibility of applying a maximum magnetic field of 3T; three vectorial-magneto-optical Kerr effect (v-MOKE) setups allowing for simultaneous recording of angular hysteresis loops and magnetoresistance curves and operating at low and high temperatures; a high resolution MOKE microscope with possibility of in-situ application of perpendicular and in-plane external magnetic field.

    Furthermore, microstructural characterization tools (dual FIB/SEM, SEM, TEM,…) are also available at the institute.

    • Electronic capabilities for design and construction of prototypes (motors, sensors…).




  • Projects

    The Projects coordinated by the Group are classified in two categories: scientific-technological projects and industrial projects.


    1. Title: NEXMAG “New exchange-coupled Manganese-based magnetic materials” (PCIN-2015-126)
    Coordinator: Dr. Alberto Bollero
    Financial Entities: MINECO - EU M.ERA-NET Call
    Duration: 01/12/2015 – 30/11/2018
    Project costs: € 739.400. Funding: € 170.000


    NEXMAG designated “Success Case” by the M.ERA-NET Network:

    2. Title: 3D-MAGNETOH “3D-Printing of Mn-based Magnets for a New Energy and Transport Horizon” (MAT2017-89960-R)
    P.I.s: Dr. Alberto Bollero / Dr. Ester M. Palmero
    Financial Entities: MINECO
    Duration: 01/01/2018 – 31/12/2020
    Funding: € 90.750


    3. Title: ENMA “Exchange-coupled Nanocomposite Magnets: Towards Rare Earth-Free Permanent Magnets” (MAT2014-56955-R)
    P.I.: Dr. Alberto Bollero
    Financial Entities: MINECO
    Duration: 01/01/2015 – 31/12/2017
    Funding: € 60.000

    Project ENMA logo

    4. Title: “Nueva generación de imanes basados en MnAl mediante impresión 3D para aplicaciones energéticas” (EUIN2017-88502)
    P.I.: Dr. Alberto Bollero
    Financial Entities: MINECO
    Duration: 01/02/17 – 31/12/18
    Funding: € 13.500

    5. Title: NANOFRONTMAG “New Frontiers in Fundamental and Applied Nanomagnetism” (S2013/MIT-2850)
    Coordinator: Prof. Rodolfo Miranda (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)
    I.P. by IMDEA Nanociencia: Dr. A. Bollero
    Financial Entities: Regional Government (Comunidad de Madrid)
    Duration: 01/06/2015 – 30/05/2018
    Funding: € 894.400


    6. NANOPYME “Nanocrystalline Permanent Magnets Based on Hybrid Metal-Ferrites” [Ref. 310516].
    Coordinator: Dr. Alberto Bollero
    Financial Entity: FP7 E.U. [7th Framework Programme]
    Duration: 01/12/2012 – 31/11/2015
    Project costs: 4.5 M€. Funding: 3.5 M€



    7. Industrial collaboration with Höganäs AB (Sweden)
    Title: GAMMA
    P.I.: Dr. Alberto Bollero
    Financial Entity: Höganäs AB (Sweden).
    Duration: 01/04/2017 – 30/09/2018


    8. Innovation Fund “Cheque Innovación” with RAMEM S.A. (Madrid)
    Title: “Síntesis e impresión 3D de materiales compuestos de partículas metálicas y polímeros funcionales”
    P.I.s: Dr. Alberto Bollero / Dr. Ester M. Palmero
    Financial Entity: Regional Government (Comunidad de Madrid).
    Duration: 01/01/2018 – 30/06/2018

    9. Industrial collaboration with IMA S.L. (Barcelona)
    Title: “Bonded Magnets”
    P.I.: Dr. Alberto Bollero
    Financial Entity: IMA S.L. (Barcelona).
    Duration: 01/06/2018 – 31/05/2021



  • Publications


    J.Rial, P. Švec, E.M. Palmero, J. Camarero, P. Švec Sr., and A. Bollero, Severe tuning of permanent magnet properties in gas-atomized MnAl powder by controlled nanostructuring and phase transformation, Acta Mater., 157, 42-52 (2018).

    E.M. Palmero, J. Rial, J. de Vicente, J. Camarero, B. Skårman, H. Vidarsson, P.-O. Larsson, and A. Bollero, Development of permanent magnet MnAlC/polymer composites and flexible filament for bonding and 3D-printing technologies, Sci. Technol. Adv. Mater., 19 (1), 465-473 (2018).


    A.Bollero, J. Rial, M. Villanueva, K.M. Golasinski, A. Seoane, J. Almunia, and R. Altimira, Recycling of strontium ferrite waste in a permanent magnet manufacturing plant, ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng., 5 (4), 3243-3249 (2017).

    J.Rial, M. Villanueva, E. Céspedes, N. López, J. Camarero, L.G. Marshall, L.H. Lewis, and A. Bollero, Application of a novel flash-milling procedure for coercivity development in nanocrystalline MnAl permanent magnet powders, J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys., 50 (10), 105004 (2017).

    M.N. Guzik, K.M. Golasinski, F.J. Pedrosa, P. Jenuš, A. Bollero, B.C. Hauback, and S. Deledda, Influence of ultra-short cryomilling on the microstructural and magnetic properties of cobalt ferrite, J. Alloys Compd., 721, 440-448 (2017).

    E.Céspedes, M. Villanueva, C. Navío, F.J. Mompeán, M. García-Hernández, A. Inchausti, P. Pedraz, M.R. Osorio, J. Camarero, and A. Bollero, High coercive LTP-MnBi for high temperature applications: From isolated particles to film-like structures, J. Alloys Compd., 729, 1156-1164 (2017).

    J.Y. Law, J. Rial, M. Villanueva, N. López, J. Camarero, L.G. Marshall, J.S. Blázquez, J.M. Borrego, V. Franco, A. Conde, L.H. Lewis, and A. Bollero, Study of phases evolution in high-coercive MnAl powders obtained through short milling time of gas-atomized particles, J. Alloys Compd., 712, 373-378 (2017).

    J.L.F. Cuñado, A. Bollero, T. Pérez-Castañeda, P. Perna, F. Ajejas, F.J. Pedrosa, A. Gudín, A. Maldonado, M.A. Niño, R. Guerrero, D. Cabrera, F.J. Terán, R. Miranda, and J. Camarero, Emergence of the Stoner-Wohlfarth astroid in thin films at dynamic regime, Sci. Rep., 7, 13474 (2017).

    E.Céspedes, G. Rodríguez-Rodríguez, C. Navío, M.R. Osorio, R. Guerrero, F.J. Pedrosa, F.J. Mompeán, M. García-Hernández, J.F. Fernández, A. Quesada, J. Camarero, and A. Bollero, Inter-grain effects on the magnetism of M-type strontium ferrite, J. Alloys Compd., 692, 280-287 (2017).


    F.J. Pedrosa, J. Rial, K.M. Golasinski, M.N. Guzik, A. Quesada, J.F. Fernández, S. Deledda, J. Camarero, and A. Bollero, Towards high performance CoFe2O4 isotropic nanocrystalline powder for permanent magnet applications, Appl. Phys. Lett., 109, 223105 (2016).

    N.Jackson, F.J. Pedrosa, A. Bollero, A. Mathewson, and O.Z. Olszewski, Integration of thick-film permanent magnets for MEMS applications, J. Microelectromech. Syst., 25 (4), 716-724 (2016).

    J.M. Colino, M.A. Arranz, A.J. Barbero, A. Bollero, and J. Camarero, Surface magnetization and the role of pattern defects in various types of ripple patterned films, J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys., 49 (13), 135002 (2016).

    F.J. Pedrosa, J. Rial, K.M. Golasinski, M. Rodríguez-Osorio, G. Salas, D. Granados, J. Camarero, and A. Bollero, Tunable nanocrystalline CoFe2O4 isotropic powders obtained by co-precipitation and ultrafast ball milling for permanent magnet applications, RSC Adv., 6, 87282-87287 (2016).

    A.Quesada, C. Granados-Miralles, A. López-Ortega, S. Erokhin, E. Lottini, F.J. Pedrosa, A. Bollero, A.M. Aragón, F. Rubio-Marcos, M. Stingaciu, G. Bertoni, C. de Julián Fernández, C. Sangregorio, J.F. Fernández, D. Berkov, and M. Christensen, Energy product enhancement in imperfectly exchange-coupled nanocomposite magnets, Adv. Electron. Mater., 2 (4), 1500365 (2016).


    P.Perna, F. Ajejas, D. Maccariello, J.L. Fernández-Cuñado, R. Guerrero, M.A. Niño, A. Bollero, R. Miranda, and J. Camarero, Interfacial exchange-coupling induced chiral symmetry breaking of spin-orbit effects, Phys. Rev. B, 92, 220422 (2015).

    F.J. Pedrosa, J. Rial, K.M. Golasinski, J. Camarero, and A. Bollero, CoFe2O4 isotropic powders for permanent magnet applications, IEEE EUROCON 2015.

    J.L. Cuñado, F.J. Pedrosa, F. Ajejas, A. Bollero, P. Perna, F.J. Terán, R. Miranda, and J. Camarero, Note: Vectorial-magneto optical Kerr effect technique combined with variable temperature and full angular range all in a single setup, Rev. Sci. Instrum., 86 (4), 046109 (2015).

    A.Bollero, F.J. Pedrosa, J.L. Cuñado, J. Camarero, M. Seifert, V. Neu, V. Baltz, D. Serantes, O. Chubykalo-Fesenko, R.P. del Real, M. Vázquez, L. Schultz, B. Dieny, and R. Miranda, Extraordinary exchange-bias effects in coupled SmCo5 (perpendicular)/CoFeB (in-plane) bilayers, 2015 IEEE Magnetics Conference (INTERMAG).


    P.Perna, D. Maccarielo, C. Rodrigo, J.L.F. Cuñado, M. Muñoz, J.L. Prieto, M.A. Niño, A. Bollero, J. Camarero, and R. Miranda, Direct experimental determination of the anisotropic magnetoresistive effects, Appl. Phys. Lett., 104, 202407 (2014).

    P.Sirvent, E. Berganza, A.M. Aragón, A. Bollero, A. Moure, M. García-Hernández, P. Marín, J.F. Fernández, and A. Quesada, Effective high-energy ball milling in air of Fe65Co35 alloys, J. Appl. Phys., 115, 17B505 (2014).

    E.Jiménez, N. Mikuszeit, J.L. Cuñado, P. Perna, F.J. Pedrosa, D. Maccariello, C. Rodrigo, M.A. Niño, A. Bollero, J. Camarero, and R. Miranda, Vectorial Kerr magnetometer for simultaneous and quantitative measurements of the in-plane magnetization components, Rev. Sci. Instrum., 85 (5), 053904 (2014).

  • News


    The project “NEXMAG” coordinated by the Group of Permanent Magnets and Applications at IMDEA has been designated “Success Case” by the M.ERA-NET Network:


    Researchers of the Group of Permanent Magnets visit the factory of Höganäs in Sweden.


    The Group of Permanent Magnets and Applications and the industrial collaboration with Höganäs AB (Sweden) gets coverage in the web:

    1. “Desarrollo sostenible de nuevos imanes permanentes "Made in Europe" con un reducido impacto medioambiental”

    Link to the article:


    1. “IMDEA Nanociencia y la empresa Höganäs se alían para crear los imanes del futuro”

    Link to the article:


    1. Preparando en Europa la próxima generación de imanes permanentes: sentido común, sostenibilidad, innovación y cooperación, ingredientes fundamentales

    Link to the article:


     IMDEA Nanociencia proyecta los imanes ecológicos del futuro

    Link to the article: