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Nano researcher gains $20,000 grant

NZN 9/06/2016 Fiona Rotherham

A researcher working on a new nano-scale magnetic material that is 1,000 times thinner than human hair has been awarded a grant under a fund aimed at turning clever ideas into commercial reality.

Jerome Leveneur, a researcher in the environment and materials division of GNS Science's National Isotope Centre, has been awarded $20,000 from the KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Fund.

The small scale of his magnetic material makes it perform better than conventional magnetic materials which can be used to improve the energy efficiency of transformers and inductors.

"The material is highly flexible and can be manufactured in a range of different shapes, like 'magnetic play-dough' to make any size and shape, which is not the case with existing materials," he said.

The high-performance material could be used in a wide range of industries including such areas as inductive power transfer, radio communication, and electric motors.

GNS Science research manager Chris Kroger said Leveneur's research was a potential game changer in the field of magnetic materials.

The researcher has lived in New Zealand for the past nine years after initially coming for a short internship after completing his degree in mechanical engineering and associated technologies in France. He did a Ph.D in New Zealand relating to his current work and then accepted a job with GNS Science.

Leveneur will use the grant and the help of entrepreneur students at Auckland University to work closely with New Zealand manufacturers of transformers and inductors to produce a range of commercially-viable materials. His goal is to show how his material outperforms existing materials and investigate new designs that are currently unachievable through conventional methods.

The Emerging Innovation Fund was launched last year by KiwiNet, a consortium of universities and Crown Research Institutes and agencies trying to increase the scale and impact of the country's scientific and technology-based innovation. The fund is open to early career researchers at universities and CRIs.

* BusinessDesk receives some assistance from Callaghan Innovation to cover commercialisation of innovation.

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