Properties of Magnetic Material

  • The particular types of reactions materials exhibit when magnetic fields are introduced make up each material's magnetic properties. There are three basic magnetic properties. Two of the properties cause materials to be attracted by magnetic fields, while the other causes materials to be slightly repelled by any magnetic field.


  • Every atom of every substance contains electrons. As these electrons orbit around an atom's nucleus, they create a minute amount of current and a tiny magnetic field. When another magnetic field is applied to these electrons, the electrons tend to oppose that magnetic field, so diamagnetic materials are repelled by all magnetic fields. This force is very weak and often goes unnoticed. Water is an example of a diamagnetic material. 


  • Paramagnetism is stronger than diamagnetism. The atomic structure of paramagnetic materials causes paramagnetic materials to be weakly attracted to external magnetic fields. This attraction is weak and temporary. When the external magnetic field is removed, the material will not exhibit its paramagnetic property. Aluminum is an example of a paramagnetic material.


  • Ferromagnetism is the strongest magnetic property that materials exhibit. The atomic structure of ferromagnetic materials, such as iron, allows electrons in the material to line up in a parallel fashion that creates a zone of high magnetic attraction when an external magnetic field is applied. This zone is called a domain. Magnetic attraction is strong in this domain, and the ferromagnetic material will retain some magnetism after the external magnetic field is removed.


  • A permanent magnet always exhibits magnetic properties. Permanent magnets can be manufactured from different certain metallic alloys or ceramic materials. These materials will not naturally lose their magnetism after they have been magnetized. A refrigerator door magnet is a common example of a permanent magnet.


  • Temporary magnets only display magnetic properties when exposed to a magnetic field. Once the magnetic field is removed, temporary magnets lose their magnetism. Temporary magnets are often made from soft iron.


  • An electromagnet is a type of temporary magnet. An electromagnet is made when the wire is coiled around an object's end electrical current is applied to the wire. The wire loops create a magnetic field, which is strengthened when a ferromagnetic material is placed at the center of the coils. The magnetic field can be strengthened further by adding more coils to the wire or increasing the electrical current. A heavy-lifting magnet crane is an example of an electromagnet.

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