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Amazing Ferrofluids

Amazing Ferrofluids

License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Is this your idea of a magnet? Can you imagine a magnet in the liquid state? How do you think a liquid magnet would behave if you brought it near a horseshoe magnet like the one above?

Amazing but True!

  • Believe it or not, liquid magnets actually do exist. They are called ferrofluids. They are a mixture of a liquid such as water and extremely small particles of a magnetic material.
  • Credit: Andrew Magill
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/amagill/333444547/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Ferrofluids can form amazing shapes that seem to defy gravity [Figure2]

     

  • Because they can be controlled by a magnetic field, ferrofluids have many real-world applications. Can you predict what some of their uses might be?
  • Ferrofluids have unusual behaviors when placed in a magnetic field. Watch this amazing video to see what a ferrofluid does when attracted by a magnet: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2XjcIhlYsM&feature=player_embedded

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Learn more about ferrofluids at the links below. Then answer the questions that follow.

  1. What is the composition of a ferrofluid?
  2. Describe the magnetic particles in a ferrofluid.
  3. Why don’t the opposite magnetic poles of the particles in a ferrofluid attract each other and clump together?
  4. What happens to the state of a ferrofluid when it is exposed to a magnetic field?
  5. Ferrofluids are used in machines between moving parts to keep them lubricated. What is their advantage over ordinary lubricants?
  6. What are two other uses of ferrofluids?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Andrew Magill; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/amagill/333444547/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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