Behind the Book | Magnetism Ahead of the Curve

How curved micromagnetic technology is set to revolutionize everything from healthcare to consumer electronics.
Published in Physics
Behind the Book | Magnetism Ahead of the Curve
Banner photo: © metamorworks / Getty Images / iStock

The concept of curvature is essential to practically everything we can think of, from the shape of the universe down to our very DNA.

It allowed the ancient Romans to build the first permanent bridges. It’s crucial to the functioning of cell membranes. And it’s the defining feature of a potential new generation of wearable devices, soft robotics, and interactive electronics.

The new Springer book, Curvilinear Micromagnetism, edited by Denys Makarov and Denis Sheka, covers the fascinating multidisciplinary community of magnetism in thin, nano-sized structures, and gives us a peek at a field poised to reshape the future of intelligent materials and devices.

Since 2019, Denys has been the head of the department “Intelligent Materials and Systems” at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, where he also leads the Helmholtz Innovation Lab “FlexiSens” — a development and testing ground for ultra-thin flexible and printed magnetic field sensors.

Co-editor Denis is currently Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Theoretical Radiophysics at Kyiv University and a leading specialist in the theory of curved nanomagnetics. Both born and raised in Ukraine, the two have been working together for over a decade trying to understand how curved nanomagnetic systems can be used in new technological applications. 

One area with disruptive potential in everything from biomedical research to consumer electronics is shapeable magnetic sensorics — flexible, printable, and stretchable inorganic nanomembranes with highly sensitive magnetic field sensors that can be bent and twisted without sacrificing performance.


Flexible magnetosensitive sensors for wearable electronics

Reproduced from Münzenrieder, N.Karnaushenko, D.Petti, L.Cantarella, G.Vogt, C.Büthe, L.Karnaushenko, D. D.Schmidt, O. G.Makarov, D.Tröster, G. (2016). Entirely Flexible On-Site Conditioned Magnetic SensoricsAdv. Electron. Mater.2: 1600188. doi: 10.1002/aelm.201600188 under terms of the CC BY-NC 4.0 license

This unique marriage of materials and technologies opens the door to a host of potential wearable devices, such as functional electronic skins (e-skins) for touchless interaction in both virtual and augmented reality. Lightweight, extremely thin, and remarkably sensitive, e-skins may soon write a new chapter in human–machine interaction and find a place in the operating rooms of the near future, assisting doctors with precision surgery and delicate manipulation of handheld medical equipment.

A finger equipped with an e-skin can interact with a magnetic field-functionalized object (glass plate) in touchless mode, enabling the selection of virtual options.

Cañón Bermúdez, G.S., Makarov, D. (2022). Geometrically Curved Magnetic Field Sensors for Interactive Electronics. In: Makarov, D., Sheka, D.D. (eds) Curvilinear Micromagnetism. Topics in Applied Physics, vol 146. Springer, Cham. Adapted under the terms of CC-BY 4.0 license from J. Ge et al., Nat. Commun. 10(1), 4405 (2019)

Curved magnetic architectures have also found a niche in the emerging field of soft robotics, where they show enormous application potential in healthcare and environmental remediation. Magnetically controlled, bio-compatible, and even able to adapt their shape to mimic biological structures such as muscles or tissue, magnetic soft robots have already found application in biomedical research for delivering drugs to specific targets inside the human body.

Additionally, magnetic micro/nanomotor filters show great promise in minimally invasive surgeries, targeted drug deliverys and actively removing microplastics and other contaminants from the environment.

© Yuuji / Getty images / iStock

But the first step towards exploiting the full application potential of this new paradigm in materials science is getting a solid fundamental understanding of magnetism in curvilinear geometries where the topology of the magnetic texture and geometry become intimately linked.

Here, Curvilinear Micromagnetism offers ample opportunity for the fundamentally-oriented research community to dive right into the inspiring theoretical concepts and new ideas on the fabrication and characterization of curvilinear magnetic architectures while keeping abreast of the seemingly constant stream of new technologies being developed in this field.

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