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Oops! Lab Accident Spins Up A Liquid Magnet

Permanent & Electromagnets for Automation | AEC Magnetics

Liquid Magnet aecmagneticsResearchers accidentally discovered what is believed to be the world's first liquid magnet! Working at the Lawrence Berkeley National Labs in California, scientists Thomas Russell, from UMass, and Xubo Liu, of Beijing University of Chemical Technology, and their team, have been exploring printing liquid structures on a special 3D printer.  They concocted a liquid made of water injected into a tube of silicone oil mixed with a nanoparticle surfactant for their printing project.  This special liquid makes a skin-like structure that holds the water in place.  They wondered if they could magnetize this 3D-printed object, like ferrofluid.  The scientists used a magnetic coil to do so and observed.  Ferrofluids' particles move in a kind of blob when magnetized, but they were stunned when they saw what their new liquids' particles did.  The nanoparticles started spinning toward each other in unison when magnetism was applied.  You can see what this looks like in the video, at the top of this page, and the photo, above. What's more, their new liquid retained its magnetic properties after the magnetic source was switched off.  Ferrofluids' magnetism shuts off when the magnetic source is switched off.  This liquid magnet may potentially be used in so many applications, such as soft robotics and targeted drug delivery.  "We almost couldn't believe it," said Russell.  "Before our study, people always assumed that permanent magnets could only be made from solids.  Read more about this exciting discovery here, in Science, where they published their work.  The fascinating thing about this liquid magnet, aside from the obvious, that it is a potentially game-changing invention, is the scientists still do not know why or exactly how this happened, only that it did.  Here at AEC Magnetics, we are used to permanent magnetic mysteries. We have witnessed them for 58 years.  While there are many unanswered questions as to why permanent magnetic materials act as they do, a person who has seen them behave in most all automation and industrial situations is Bill Klaus, AEC president.  Save yourself time, guesswork and endless websearching.  Your best bet for permanent magnetics questions is right here at AEC.  If it's magnetic...it's AEC!