What Metals Are Magnetic?

What is Metal?

A material that is malleable and ductile conducts electricity and heat is said to be a metal. Metals are naturally occurring elements mainly found in ores, but some kinds of metals are also found in a free state in nature. 

What is Magnet?

Ancient civilizations 2500 years ago first discovered magnets, and after the formation of magnetic compasses by the 12th and 13th centuries AD, they were widely used for navigation and geographic orientation.

Magnetism in metals is due to the uneven distribution of electrons in atoms of these metal elements, due to which irregular movement occurs that shifts the charge inside the atom, creating magnetic dipoles. When these dipoles align, they form a magnetic domain, a magnetic area that has a south and a north pole. In short, the magnetic behavior of metal is purely dependent on its electronic configuration along with the environmental temperature. Electrons play an important part in creating strong and weak magnetic fields. 

What Metals are Magnetic/ Magnetic Metals?

Today both metals and magnets are widely used as we can find them in almost every electronic device we use, from motors to machines, speakers to air conditioners. They pretty much became an essential part of modern technology. 

Some metals also contain magnetic characteristics, and when magnetized, they can produce a magnetic field and can become magnetic metals. Metals that can be magnetized are known as “ferromagnetic” These metals may or may not be magnetic in their real state, but they tend to be attracted to objects which produce magnetic fields and, after being magnetized, become magnetic metals themselves. A magnetic metal can be magnetized or demagnetized according to its nature and electronic configuration.

Magnetic metals can be distinguished based on how long their magnetic properties remain active. The categories into which magnetic metals can be classified are as follows:

Ferromagnetic:

Note that only ferromagnetic metals can completely magnetize and are considered truly magnetic. They are also known as hard magnets because they are in a constant state of producing a magnetic field.

Paramagnetic:

On the other hand, magnets that are weakly attracted to either pole of a magnet are said to be Paramagnetic metals. Platinum and Aluminium both are examples of paramagnetic metals.

Diamagnetic:

Diamagnetic elements show a weak repulsion when placed near a magnet and are repelled by both poles. Gold. Lead and graphite are some examples of diamagnetic elements.

Now Let’s talk about some of the common and most well-known magnetic metals. Some of them are magnetic all the time, and some others have magnetic properties only with certain chemical characteristics and composition.

Nickel:

Nickel is a popular magnetic metal that has ferromagnetic properties. Its compounds are present in the earth’s core. The most important use of this metal is to make coins. Other than that, it is used in making wires, kitchen tools, batteries, phones, transport, and buildings.

Iron:

An extremely well-known and strongest ferromagnetic metal is Iron. Like Nickel, its compounds are also present in the earth’s core and also inner core but in a much larger volume.

Its crystalline structure plays a major role in its magnetic characteristic. Its properties vary with its varying crystalline structures hence making it ferromagnetic in its alpha-FE structure (body-centered cubic) and paramagnetic in gamma-FE structure(face-centered cubic). Iron is majorly used in almost every field in one form or another.

Cobalt: 

Cobalt is also an important magnetic metal that can be used to produce hard and soft magnets. Soft magnets with cobalt have high saturation points, which makes them useful for high-temperature applications. It is majorly used in motors, sensors, hard disks, MRI machines, and turbines.

Some Alloys of Rare Earth Metals

Along with the above-mentioned magnetic metals, alloys of some rare earth metals also have ferromagnetic properties. Neodymium, samarium, and gadolinium are all earth’s rare magnetic metals. 

Steel: 

As steel is derived from Iron, it also contains ferromagnetic properties, which makes it a magnetic metal. Mostly it will act as a magnet to some extent, but if needed, steel can be used to make permanent magnets.

Neodymium:

Neodymium is the strongest permanent magnetic metal available commercially anywhere in the world. It is paramagnetic at room temperature as they lose its magnetism at low temperatures. Then in these conditions of low temperature, Samarium Cobalt magnets are the strongest magnetic metal. 

Note that the temperature at which a magnetic metal starts losing its magnetic force is called its Curie temperature. Metals get in different magnetic phases depending on the temperature of the environment they are kept in. For example, Iron, which is one of the strongest magnetic metals, loses its magnetism when heated above 770’C and becomes paramagnetic. Nickel, Iron, and Cobalt are the only elements that have Curie temperature above room temperature.

Applications of Magnetic Metals

Magnetic metals have vast usage in today’s world. Almost all the things we are inventing and using today contain magnetic metals of some kind as the world is getting much more advanced with science, technologies, and machines. 

Magnetic metals can be mainly used for:

  • Making a different kind of compass
  • Making speakers and microphone
  • MRI scans (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
  • Electric motors and generators
  • Magnetic strips on banks cards which includes credit, debit cards, etc
  • Machines and toys 
  • Making electricity
  • Magnetic data storage systems like hard drives, magnetic disks, and magnetic tapes.
  • Magnetic levitation trains
  • Wristwatches and mobile devices.
  • Process food manufacturing industry to remove metal foreign bodies from materials.
  • Making jewelry 

Out of all the metals that exist in the world, only a few of them are magnetic metals. Aluminum, copper, gold, and silver are some common metals that do not have magnetic properties at all. In comparison, all non-metals are considered to be non-magnetic because only metals contain characteristics to form a magnetic field either naturally or by means of any process. But in today’s world, with the advancement of science, scientists are researching and experimenting hard to find new methods to magnetize non-metals also. Some of them have carried out some successful experiments also, which results in making gold, silver, and platinum slightly magnetic.

 

Leave a Comment