Researchers in Northeastern University in Boston and Cambridge in the UK have figuring out how to atomically manipulate iron and nickle to create tetrataenite, a material known only from meteorite samples that isn’t known to exist on Earth. That’s a potentially big deal because it’s magnetic and could replace some rare earth materials in magnets. Northeastern University has a story (here):
“The iron and nickel atoms have to rearrange themselves. And nature will do it, but it will take millions of years to do,” she says. “So if we can do it in industrially relevant time-scales, we will have a nice new addition to the permanent magnet portfolio.”
The story is pretty fluffy and since 95% (or more) of lab breakthroughs don’t actually make it to production, this might be nothing. But it’s cool!