Professor of Theoretical Physics
Magnetic materials have innumerable applications in everything from electric motors and generators to data storage and field sensors. Patrik Henelius studies a class of magnetic materials that are magnetically frustrated. This means that the material’s inherent magnetic moment cannot agree on what direction it should point, in contrast to a ferromagnetic refrigerator magnet.
The frustration leads to a number of fascinating phenomena. For example, a version of magnetic monopoles (charges) has been found in a group of frustrated “spin ice” materials. A great deal of basic research is being conducted internationally to study the properties of these frustrated magnets, but the research area is relatively new and there are as yet few technological applications. Future applications for magnetic monopoles are, however, conceivable as a great deal of modern technology is based on the movement of electric charges, i.e electricity.
Henelius works close to experimental groups that cultivate and study crystals of relevant materials. Based on the understanding of the material’s structure and the experimental measurement results, analytical and numerical calculations are done for different physical models that are believed to describe the material. The objective is to be able to describe these complicated materials with as simple models as possible.