The alloy material is in demand for use in nanomagnets for data storage. It can retain information even at extremely small sizes, and it is resistant to heat effects, researchers said.

"The relatively convenient synthesis conditions, along with the tunable magnetic properties, make these materials highly desirable for future magnetic recording technologies," said Kai Liu, a University professor of physics, who led the research.

Previous methods for making the iron-platinum alloys with an ordered crystal structure involved high-temperature treatments that would be difficult to integrate into the rest of the manufacturing process. The new process involves atomic-scale multilayer sputtering to create a material with extremely thin layers of metal, and rapid thermal annealing to convert it into the desirable ordered alloy. It is possible to adjust the magnetic properties of the alloy by adding small amounts of copper into particular regions of the alloy.

A paper describing the work was published in the journal Applied Physics Letters and featured in its Research Highlights. The work was supported by the National Science Foundation Materials World Network Program.