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How do Magnets Work


How do Magnets Work

Comments Off on How do Magnets Work 11 March 2014

Magnets are fascinating objects that attract to steel, iron, cobalt and nickel. There are many uses for magnets and we see them at work every day. Refrigerators, school lockers and cars carry advertising by way of magnets to thousands of customers each year. Magnets also play a role in creating electricity and are responsible for medical advances such as the MRI or magnetic resonance imaging. What is it that makes a magnet work?

A magnetic field surrounds each magnet. When negatively charged electrons move in a magnet, it creates a force around the magnet and forms a magnetic field. The magnetic fields contain lines of force that exit the north pole of the magnet and enter through the south pole. Opposite poles are attracted to each other, while equal poles repel each other. These lines of force or domains all travel in the same direction in a magnet, while in un-magnetized material the domains point in random directions. This is why opposite poles are attracted and the same pole are repelled. If you break a magnet in two, each half will then have a north and south pole.

Magnetism, gravity and atomic forces – both strong and weak are the four fundamental forces in the universe. Electrical fields and magnetic fields are related.

Magnets made of ceramic or ferric magnets, are not very strong. There are three main types of magnets, permanent magnets, temporary magnets and electromagnets. Magnets that contain rare-earth metals elements in their makeup are much stronger. Listed here in order by the strength of the magnet are four types.

• Ceramic magnets – are a ceramic compound that contains iron oxide.
• Alnico magnets – made of nickel, aluminum and cobalt.
• Neodymium magnets – made from the rare-earth element neodymium, iron and boron.
• Samarium cobalt – this magnet contains cobalt with samarium, the rare-earth element.

Magnets can occur naturally, but scientists have perfected the process of manufacturing them and making them stronger. Lodestone is a naturally magnetized mineral called magnetite but because it is weaker than the manmade magnets, it is not as widely used.

Law enforcement uses a mixture of pigment material and a powder form of magnetic material for fingerprinting. Magnetic powder, when mixed with pigment material, is a good substrate for fingerprinting on porous, rough or grained surfaces. It also works well on plastic films, bags, cardboard, paper, brushed metal and raw wood. It has been the fingerprinting material of choice by many fingerprinting experts for years. Magnetic powder comes in several colors, but the main ones are black, gray, white, red, green and yellow. Other fingerprinting powders would not be as suitable on these surfaces because the coating is too heavy.

Amazingly, we take magnets for granted when common items that we used each day rely so heavily on them. We use them as door closures, in car alternators, in computer hard drives, generating electricity and in medical equipment. So many items rely on magnets that it would be amazing if anyone could list them all.

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