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Wonders of Spiky Liquid!

And [He created] the horses, mules and donkeys for you to ride and [as] adornment. And He creates that which you do not know. (Surat An-Nahl 16:8).

You could not spill a cup of it while a magnet is attached. You must not drink it because magnets would rush to attach to your stomach due to magnetism. You could form astonishing sculptures from this “Liquid” by using some magnets and locating them at different sites. It’s fun.

Ferrofluid consists of two things: a normal natural organic solvent like water (yes, the normal water you drink everyday,) or any other organic solvents, with a “nanoferromagnet” added to it.

A ferromagnet is a type of magnet which primarily depends on one of the three metals: iron, cobalt or nickel. This ferromagnet must be ten nanometers in size at most in order to be light enough to flow between the liquid particles without precipitating at the bottom of the fluid.

Surfactants are another important element that needs to be added to ferrafluid because they ensure that magnetic particles won’t act separately and individually away from the bulk of magnetic liquid.

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Interestingly, ferrafluid is not just for fun. It is very beneficial in various fields of human lives. One of these is making minimal resistance in mechanical engineering by reducing friction between objects. This magnetic liquid is useful in laboratory laser experiments and analytical instrumentation.

In medicine, ferrafluid is used in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and for cancer, it doesn’t only detect it, but also treats it through high temperature as a heat conductor. Ferrafluid’s magnetism makes it important in controlling angular momentum in spacecrafts. Other uses include hard disks, loudspeakers and telescopes liquid mirrors.

This article is from Science’s archive and we’ve originally published it on an earlier date.