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Distinguishes combinations of compounds from true compounds.

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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: 


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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?

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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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