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Gizmorama - April 11, 2018

Good Morning,

An ionic paramagnetic liquid has been used to bring magnetic properties to those without. And now magnetism has made its way to 2D platinum.

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,

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*-- Physicists build 2D platinum magnet --*

Scientists have induced magnetism in 2D platinum using a paramagnetic ionic liquid.

Platinum is a superb conductor but features no magnetic properties. But using an electric field created by the paramagnetic ionic liquid, scientists produced a ferromagnetic state on the surface of the platinum sheet.

"You can tune magnets electrically by changing the number of carriers inside, which is one of the key ideas in spintronics. But so far, no one could generate magnets like that," Justin Ye, a material scientist at the University of Groningen in Germany, said in a news release.

Ionic liquids are salts in liquid form, or a salt solution. They are good conductors of electricity.

"The key, here, is that we used a paramagnetic ionic liquid, a new type of ionic liquid we synthesized ourselves," Ye said.

When scientists gated an electric field through the ionic liquid, ions flooded the surface of the 2D platinum. The ions carried both an electric charge and magnetic moment, creating a layer of magnetic platinum measuring just an atom thick.

Researchers described the breakthrough in the journal Science Advances.

"We were able to show that this is really a 2D magnet, and the magnetic state can extend to the room temperature," said Ye. "It is amazing that we could still add new properties to such a well-known material."

Scientists have successfully created a variety of 2D magnets out of new materials, but the majority are made from insulators and work only at low temperatures. Because platinum is a conductor, the new magnet can be easily turned on and off, offering potential applications in spintronics, a type of electronics used to make hard drives and other kinds of solid state technologies.

*- New source of global nitrogen could help soil store more CO2 -*

Until now, scientists thought plants got all their nitrogen from the atmosphere, but new research suggests Earth's bedrock supplies as much as a quarter of the planet's nitrogen.

The discovery, detailed this week in the journal Science, could change researchers' understanding of the carbon cycle.

"Our study shows that nitrogen weathering is a globally significant source of nutrition to soils and ecosystems worldwide," Ben Houlton, director of the Muir Institute at the University of California, Davis, said in a news release. "This runs counter [to] the centuries-long paradigm that has laid the foundation for the environmental sciences. We think that this nitrogen may allow forests and grasslands to sequester more fossil fuel CO2 emissions than previously thought."

Nitrogen is essential to the carbon sequestration process, but until now, scientists thought ecosystems were limited to the small amount of nitrogen plants and soil pull from the atmosphere.

In order for nitrogen to leach out of bedrock and into the ecosystem, weathering must occur. Tectonic activity could free up nitrogen, researchers suggest, as could chemical weathering, which occurs when rainwater reacts with a rock's minerals.

Mountains like the Himalayas and Andes are likely home to large amounts of nitrogen weathering, as are grasslands, tundra, deserts and woodlands.

Places with high levels of nitrogen weathering may warrant extra environmental protections.

"Geology might have a huge control over which systems can take up carbon dioxide and which ones don't," Houlton said. "When thinking about carbon sequestration, the geology of the planet can help guide our decisions about what we're conserving."

Scientists knew there was a missing nitrogen input somewhere because the atmosphere couldn't account for the levels researchers were measuring in soils. But scientists couldn't find it -- until now.

"We show that the paradox of nitrogen is written in stone," said researcher Scott Morford, a UC Davis grad student at the time of the study. "There's enough nitrogen in the rocks, and it breaks down fast enough to explain the cases where there has been this mysterious gap."


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