Back in the early 1980s scientific and commercial interest in metallic glass materials was beginning to take off. And in recent years there have begun to be tentative efforts to incorporate these amorphous metallic glasses into spintronic and MEMS devices.
Wonder Material of the Past
The properties of Metglas, as it is now known, can readily be controlled by adjusting its composition and growth parameters. For example alloys can be selected to optimise for permeability, temperature performance or magnetostriction.
The many attractive properties of metallic glasses include superconductivity, a low magnetic moment, and controllable resistance vs temperature behaviour. This led scientists and industrialists of the 1980s to speculate that it could be incorporated into motors, transformers and even magnetic bubble memory – the great white hope of 1970s spintronics.
Today metglas is routinely found in transformers, but has yet to make serious inroads into magnetic memory technology.
One of the key challenges in achieving metglas spintronics will be to reliably deposit thin films of the material, whilst retaining the desirable structural and magnetic properties. If the growth and deposition problems can be overcome, could we soon be seeing metglas spintronics enter the mainstream?
This article from New Scientist 1982 discusses the production, properties and prospects of these metallic glasses.