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HARFIR (“Heusler Alloy Replacement for Iridium”) was a 43-month European/Japanese R&D project which started in September 2013. It was a JST-EC DG RTD Coordinated Research Project, partially funded by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research & Innovation through its Framework Programme 7 and also by the Japan Science and Technology Agency through its Strategic International Collaborative Research Program.

The goal of the project was to discover an antiferromagnetic alloy that does not contain the rare metal Iridium. Iridium is becoming more and more widely used in numerous spin electronic storage devices, including read heads in hard disk drives.

The EU team, led by Prof Atsufumi Hirohata from the Department of Electronics at The University of York (UK), worked initially on the preparation of polycrystalline thin films of Heusler Alloys, with the material design led by theoretical calculations.

The Japanese team, led by Prof Koki Takanashi, Director of the Institute for Materials Research at Tohoku University, meanwhile worked on the preparation of epitaxial thin films, measurements of fundamental properties and structural/magnetic characterisation by neutron and synchrotron x-ray beams.

Fabrication and characterization of device structures was then undertaken jointly by both teams.

eu-japanThe JST-EC DG RTD Coordinated Research Project “Development of New Materials for the Substitution of Critical Metals” was created to completely eliminate the critical (and often rare) metal content in high-tech devices. It promotes research on the development of new materials through rational design, synthesis or fabrication of nanostructures, and advanced characterisation and measurement methods.