What’s a neodymium magnet?

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Neodymium is a powerful and affordable rare earth magnet used in various industries and hobbies. It contains two neodymium atoms, 14 iron atoms, and one boron atom. Its strength is measured in gauss ratings and can value up to 13,500 gauss. It is used in computer hard drives and high-end lecturers. However, it loses strength at high temperatures and can be dangerous if used carelessly. It can be used in fun and educational projects but should be handled with caution.

Neodymium is the most powerful permanent magnetic material that scientists are currently aware of. It’s also affordable, making it suitable for a myriad of applications. The chemical composition of a neodymium magnet is Nd2Fe14B, i.e. two neodymium atoms, 14 iron atoms and one boron atom. They are rare earth magnets, as opposed to traditional ferrite and ceramic magnets, which means they contain atoms from the lanthanide or actinide series on the periodic table.

Magnets made with neodymium are the strongest of the rare earth magnets. Their strength is often given in terms of a gauss rating; Depending on the shape and grade, this type of magnet can value 13,500 gauss or more, although a small one usually values ​​around 2,000 gauss. By comparison, a refrigerator magnet has a velocity of about 50 gauss.

Because they are inexpensive, these magnets are used quite frequently in industry and among hobbyists and amateurs. For example, every computer hard drive has a small neodymium magnet that helps direct the needle that reads the data. They can also be found in high-end lecturers and science classrooms around the world.

One of the only downsides is that its magnetic field loses some strength when temperatures are too high. This precludes their use in electronic applications where a lot of heat is generated. There are versions of the neodymium magnet that work better at hotter temperatures, but in these cases strength must be sacrificed.

Neodymium magnets are incredibly strong; one the size of a US quarter (about 1 inch (24.26 mm) in diameter) can suspend a piece of iron weighing tens of pounds (kilograms). Two pops together at the wrong angle can pinch the skin and get the blood flowing. The larger neodymium magnets can be extremely dangerous, they can clean credit cards, send metal objects flying and potentially break bones if used carelessly.

For all their danger, neodymium magnets can be used in a number of fun and educational projects. Ferrofluid and magnetic films are commonly used to visualize magnetic field lines in a physical medium. Carefully arranged neodymium magnets can cause diamagnetic levitation, a peculiar phenomenon that can even cause live objects such as some frogs to levitate. If someone tries to drag one along a non-magnetic conductive surface like aluminum, it will engage in a “magnetic break” and be extremely difficult to move. Due to their incredible strength, however, their use is best left to cautious adults.

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