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Thin layers of two non-magnetic metals – copper and manganese – become magnets when they are in contact with buckminsterfullerene molecules. This discovery has been made by physicists in the UK, US and Switzerland, and could lead to new types of practical electronic devices and even quantum computers.

 

Johnston magnets

 

Ferromagnets – such as familiar fridge magnets – are materials that have permanent magnetic moments. There are only three metals that are ferromagnetic at room temperature – iron, nickel and cobalt – and this is explained in terms of the "Stoner criterion", which was first derived in 1938 at the University of Leeds by Edmund Stoner.