Power from Nanomagnets

Oles Sendetskyi wants to use polarity reversal in nanomagnets to develop a sustainable power source for small devices.

Oles Sendetskyi, winner of a PSI Founder Fellowship. In his hands he is holding samples of nanomagnets. (Photo: Paul Scherrer Institute/Mahir Dzambegovic)

Ukrainian Oles Sendetskyi deals with magnets so tiny that they amount to just one-thousandth of the width of a human hair. Yet the 27-year-old’s ambitions are anything but tiny. Today many processes for sustainable production of electric power are inefficient or too expensive, says Sendetskyi, and I want to help to change that. The winner of the Founder Fellowship of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI wants to lay the foundation for power production using nanomagnets.

Oles Sendetskyi received his bachelor’s degree in physics in Kiev, and he completed his master’s degree within the framework of the EU‘s Erasmus Mundus Programme for students from outside Europe in Rennes, Munich, Grenoble – and Villigen, where he was a trainee in the Laboratory for Neutron Scattering. After this, for his doctoral work, he returned to PSI, which had impressed him with its many large-scale research facilities. Sendetskyi investigated the behaviour of nanometre-scale magnets that spontaneously reverse polarity – that is, their magnetic direction. He asked himself if this effect, which has impeded the further miniaturisation of hard drives, might not also be used positively to produce electric power. After a few inquiries he realised that no one had thought of this before. As a student I had the feeling that it would be nearly impossible to discover something new myself, says Oles Sendetskyi. But there will always be things that the others haven’t imagined.

In January Oles Sendetskyi attended the information session on the Founder Fellowship, where Christian Brönnimann, CEO of Dectris – a PSI spin-off that has been developing X-ray cameras since 2006 – told about the founding of his company. The Dectris success story strengthened Oles Sendetskyi’s own resolve to give it a try as an entrepreneur. In the coming 18 months he wants to build a prototype consisting of millions of nanomagnets. Through spontaneous or stimulated polarity reversal, each magnet generates current that flows directly into a device or to storage in a capacitor. With this the smallest devices, such as sensors or watches, could be constantly supplied with electrical energy. And already, from the observation of tiny magnets, an idea has arisen that could eventually shake up a 40-billion-market like the clock and watch industry.

Source : PSI