Q:

What type of metals attract to magnets?

A:

Quick Answer

The three primary metal elements that are attracted to magnets are iron, nickel and cobalt. These are also the metals used to create most magnets, although some more powerful magnets use rare-earth elements, such as gadolinium or neodymium.

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Full Answer

All materials have tiny internal magnetic fields called domains, but in these three ferromagnetic metals, the internal magnetic domains are uniformly aligned to give them a magnetic field. In all other elements, the internal magnets are either randomly oriented or cancel each other out, which is why these other metals don't have a magnetic field.

The ferromagnetic metals are often combined with other metals to create alloys, which also have magnetic properties. For instance, steel is an alloy made from iron that is magnetic, although not to the same degree as pure iron.

Most magnets are made from one of these three metals, which is then heated until the metal reaches its specific Curie temperature. The Curie temperature is the specific temperature at which a ferromagnetic metal takes on the properties of a magnet. If the material is only heated to the exact Curie temperature, the magnetic effects are only temporary. The magnetic properties can be made more permanent by heating the metal up beyond this temperature.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What metals are attracted to magnets?

    A:

    Metals that are attracted to magnets include iron, nickel and cobalt. The majority of metals are not attracted to magnets, including copper, silver, gold, magnesium, platinum and aluminum. However, the metals that are not attracted to magnets may magnetize slightly when placed in a magnetic field.

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    How long do magnets last?

    A:

    The magnetic field of a permanent magnetic material destabilizes on its own over a long period of time, generally on the order of hundreds of years. Magnets, however, weaken more quickly when they are exposed to physical shocks, other magnetic or electrical fields, and high temperatures.

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  • Q:

    Who discovered magnets?

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    Magnets have been known since antiquity and occur naturally through a mineral known as magnetite. Magnetite is an iron oxide and contains a high concentration of iron, which magnetizes when it forms. This mineral is also known as lodestone.

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    Why do magnets repel each other?

    A:

    All magnets have both a north and a south pole, which causes them to either repel or attract one another depending on how the two poles are lined up. If the north pole of one magnet meets the south pole of another, the two will be attracted, but if either both north or south poles meet, the magnets will repel one another.

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