Multicaloric refrigeration enhanced by multisite interactions

Bridging theory and experiment

Improving the efficiency and reducing the contaminant footprint of current cooling mechanisms is an urgent need to adapt to climate change and respond to high energy demands of the developed world.

A solution to this undertaking is the use of magnetic materials that present large changes in temperature and entropy generated under the application of external stimuli. This effect, called caloric effect, is the basis of an innovative field of research that aspires to create new efficient and environmentally friendly solid state refrigerant technologies.

In recent decades, cooling based on magnetic materials has become an active and promising field of research. However, such a technology is still not commercially attractive, as it requires the use of expensive permanent magnets and many of the magnetic materials considered suffer from mechanical fatigue when subjected to cooling cycles.

This project focuses on a new pathway to drastically reduce costs and improve the useful life of the refrigerant: The use of magnetic materials that simultaneously show caloric effects generated by both magnetic fields and mechanical stresses, that is, multicaloric effects. The goal is to obtain the optimal combination of magnetic and mechanical stimuli to create maximum cooling.

The objective of MULTICALORICS project is the theoretical and experimental research of different magnetic cooling materials using the application of both magnetic fields and mechanical stresses
Concept of the disordered local moment (DLM) theory [1]. Magnetically constrained DFT calculations at different atom-scale magnetic orientations are used to describe thermal excitations. The magnetic system is fully ordered at absolute zero temperature (a), while it becomes disordered as the temperature raises (b,c).

Density functional theory (DFT) is currently one of the main tools for modeling materials from first principles. However, the standard version of DFT usually does not include temperature effects and thus encounters difficulties in describing the thermodynamics of (multi-)caloric effects. In this project we use a disordered local moment (DLM) theory, one of the few existing theoretical frameworks that expands DFT to model magnetic materials at finite temperature from first principles [1,2,3].

The magnetic properties of a solid are dictated by the magnetic interactions between the atoms, which depend on their positions and distances giving rise to strong couplings of magnetism with the crystal structure of the material. For this reason, the vibrations of atoms caused by thermal excitations, i.e. the phonons, may also affect the material’s magnetism and consequent caloric effects. However, the current version of our computational tool does not incorporate this interaction. A main goal of MULTICALORICS project is the development of a new method to calculate the effect of phonons on magnetism and caloric responses.

Research prior to this project has shown a potential coupling of phonons to magnetism in Mn3AN materials, where “A” can be a combination of transition metals and semiconducting elements. Mn3AN is a famous class of magnetic materials thanks to its gigantic caloric effects and possible tuning via chemical doping [4,5]. In the MULTICALORICS project we have the ambition to predict the best multicaloric conditions in these materials for their subsequent experimental analysis in the group of functional materials and phase transitions of the UB.

[1] B. Gyorffy et al., J. Phys. F: Metal Phys. 15, 1337 (1985)
[2] E. Mendive-Tapia and J. Staunton, Phys. Rev. B 99, 144424 (2019)
[3] E. Mendive-Tapia, J. Neugebauer, and T. Hickel, Phys. Rev. B 105, 064425 (2022)
[4] D. Matsunami et al., Nature Materials 14, 73 (2015)
[5] D. Boldrin, E. Mendive-Tapia et al., Phys. Rev. X 8, 041035 (2018)

MULTICALORICS is composed of three main tasks:

Understanding and prediction of new multicaloric materials by means of first-principles calculations.

Development of a new computational tool that includes the effect of phonon on magnetism and caloric cooling.

Creation of new multicaloric materials and their experimental study.

MULTICALORICS project focuses on the development of new computational tools in order to guide experiments in the understanding and discovery of multicaloric materials with enhanced cooling performance
If you are interested in learning more about MULTICALORICS project and its application, send an email to

Project team

Eduardo Mendive Tapia

Eduardo Mendive Tapia

Principal Investigador

Eduard Vives Santa-Eulalia

Eduard Vives Santa-Eulalia

Coordinator and Investigator

Lluis Mañosa Carrera

Lluis Mañosa Carrera


Enric Stern Taulats

Enric Stern Taulats



  • Julie B. Staunton (university of Warwick, UK)
  • Christopher E. Patrick (university of Oxford, UK)
  • David Boldrin (university of Glasgow, UK)
  • Jörg Neugebauer (Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung, Germany)
  • Tilmann Hickel (Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung, Germany)

Publications and highlights

Eduardo Mendive-Tapia, Christopher E. Patrick, Tilmann Hickel, Jörg Neugebauer, and Julie B. Staunton.
Quantification of electronic and magnetoelastic mechanisms of first-order magnetic phase transitions from first principles: application to caloric effects in La(FexSi1-x)13.
J. Phys. Energy 5, 034004 (2023)

Supported by:
MULTICALORICS project – 101025767 funded by supported by: