Magnetic materials

(mag′ned·ik mə′tir·ē·əl)

(electromagnetism) A material exhibiting ferromagnetism.


Materials exhibiting ferromagnetism. The magnetic properties of all materials make them respond in some way to a magnetic field, but most materials are diamagnetic or paramagnetic and show almost no response. The materials that are most important to magnetic technology are ferromagnetic and ferrimagnetic materials. Their response to a field H is to create an internal contribution to the magnetic induction B proportional to H, expressed as B = μH, where μ the permeability, varies with H for ferromagnetic materials. Ferromagnetic materials are the elements iron, cobalt, nickel, and their alloys, some manganese compounds, and some rare earths. Ferrimagnetic materials are spinels of the general composition MFe2O4, and garnets, M3Fe5O12, where M represents a metal. See also Ferrimagnetism; Ferromagnetism; Magnetism; Magnetization.

Ferromagnetic materials are characterized by a Curie temperature, above which thermal agitation destroys the magnetic coupling giving rise to the alignment of the elementary magnets (electron spins) of adjacent atoms in a crystal lattice. Below the Curie temperature, ferromagnetism appears spontaneously in small volumes called domains. In the absence of a magnetic field, the domain arrangement minimizes the external energy, and the bulk material appears unmagnetized. See also Curie temperature.

Magnetic materials are further classified as soft or hard according to the ease of magnetization. Soft materials are used in devices in which change in the magnetization during operation is desirable, sometimes rapidly, as in ac generators and transformers. Hard materials are used to supply a fixed field either to act alone, as in a magnetic separator, or to interact with others, as in loudspeakers and instruments. See also Electric rotating machinery; Electrical measurements; Generator; Inductor; Loudspeaker; Magnetic separation methods; Microphone; Transformer.


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