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Giant magnetocaloric effect driven by structural transitions

Abstract

Magnetic cooling could be a radically different energy solution substituting conventional vapour compression refrigeration in the future. For the largest cooling effects of most potential refrigerants we need to fully exploit the different degrees of freedom such as magnetism and crystal structure. We report now for Heusler-type Ni–Mn–In–(Co) magnetic shape-memory alloys, the adiabatic temperature change ΔTad = −3.6 to −6.2 K under a moderate field of 2 T. Here it is the structural transition that plays the dominant role towards the net cooling effect. A phenomenological model is established that reveals the parameters essential for such a large ΔTad. We also demonstrate that obstacles to the application of Heusler alloys, namely the usually large hysteresis and limited operating temperature window, can be overcome by using the multi-response to different external stimuli and/or fine-tuning the lattice parameters, and by stacking a series of alloys with tailored magnetostructural transitions.

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Figure 1: Contributions from the magnetic and structural part for a first-order magnetic transition to the MCE.
Figure 2: Sensitivity of structural transition temperatures to the strength of magnetic field and associated giant cooling effect for Ni–Mn–In–(Co) alloys.
Figure 3: Effect of essential parameters on the transition distribution and the dynamic cooling process under adiabatic conditions for Ni–Mn–In–(Co) alloys.
Figure 4: Feasible solutions for the obstacles to the application of the Ni–Mn–In–Co alloy as a magnetic refrigerant.
Figure 5: Adiabatic temperature change (ΔH = 2 T) for several of the most researched ambient magnetic refrigerants at either a purely magnetic transition temperature Tc (second-order transition, marked by hatched pattern) or magnetostructural coupling transition temperature Tm (first-order transition, solid fill-pattern).

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Acknowledgements

The research leading to these results has received financial support from Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SPP 1239) and the European Community’s 7th Framework Programme under grant agreement No. 214864 (SSEEC). Thanks to K. Nenkov for technical support and to M. D. Kuz’min, K. H. Müller and K.G. Sandeman for fruitful discussions.

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J.L., K.P.S. and T.G. designed and performed the experiments. J.L., K.P.S., T.G. and J.D.M. analysed the data. J.L. wrote the manuscript with the support of J.D.M.,T.G. and O.G. O.G. led projects.

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Correspondence to Jian Liu or Tino Gottschall.

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Liu, J., Gottschall, T., Skokov, K. et al. Giant magnetocaloric effect driven by structural transitions. Nature Mater 11, 620–626 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat3334

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