So we have Hitachi chipping away at the need for rare earths with it's improved ferric oxide magnets.
What else could there be coming down the line?
One key fact in the OMG we're so doomed because we ABSOLUTELY-FRICKEN-NEEEEEED rare earths for electric cars and wind turbines is this:
Currently the MAIN driver for demand of rare earths happens to be hard drives and not motors for electric cars or wind turbines.
So is there successful R&D on potential substitutes for hard drive magnets?
Yup. Something similar to the flash drives that are already eating away at hard drive sales. They're made out of graphene. So what you say?
Graphene is CARBON. One of the most abundant materials on Earth. Heck we produce so much of it that there are complaints it's all ending up in the atmosphere....
Some details here:
"MIT TEchnology Review reports that researchers at the National University of Singapore have made computer memory devices using graphene based on the well understood ferroelectric effect. This is the first step toward memory that could be much denser and faster than the magnetic memory used in today's hard drives. The researchers have made hundreds of prototype graphene memory devices, and they work reliably, according to Barbaros Özyilmaz, the physics professor who led the work presented at a recent American Physical Society meeting in Pittsburgh."