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Magnetism and types of magnets

Magnetism and types of magnets
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A magnet (from Greek μαγνήτις λίθος magnḗtis líthos, “Magnesian stone“) is a material or object that produces a magnetic field. This magnetic field is invisible but is responsible for the most notable property of a magnet: a force that pulls on other ferromagnetic materials, such as iron, and attracts or repels other magnets.
A permanent magnet is an object made from a material that is magnetized and creates its own persistent magnetic field. An everyday example is a refrigerator magnet used to hold notes on a refrigerator door. Materials that can be magnetized, which are also the ones that are strongly attracted to a magnet, are called ferromagnetic (or ferrimagnetic). These include iron, nickel, cobalt, some alloys of rare earth metals, and some naturally occurring minerals such as lodestone. Although ferromagnetic (and ferrimagnetic) materials are the only ones attracted to a magnet strongly enough to be commonly considered magnetic, all other substances respond weakly to a magnetic field, by one of several other types of magnetism.
Ferromagnetic materials can be divided into magnetically “soft” materials like annealed iron, which can be magnetized but do not tend to stay magnetized, and magnetically “hard” materials, which do. Permanent magnets are made from “hard” ferromagnetic materials such as alnico and ferrite that are subjected to special processing in a powerful magnetic field during manufacture, to align their internal micro crystalline structure, making them very hard to demagnetize. To demagnetize a saturated magnet, a certain magnetic field must be applied, and this threshold depends on coercivity of the respective material. “Hard” materials have high coercivity, whereas “soft” materials have low coercivity.

Magnetic field
The magnetic flux density (also called magnetic B field or just magnetic field, usually denoted B) is a vector field. The magnetic B field vector at a given point in space is specified by two properties:
Its direction, which is along the orientation of a compass needle.
Its magnitude (also called strength), which is proportional to how strongly the compass needle orients along that direction.

In SI units, the strength of the magnetic B field is given in teslas.

Magnetic moment
A magnet’s magnetic moment (also called magnetic dipole moment and usually denoted μ) is a vector that characterizes the magnet’s overall magnetic properties. For a bar magnet, the direction of the magnetic moment points from the magnet’s south pole to its north pole,and the magnitude relates to how strong and how far apart these poles are. In SI units, the magnetic moment is specified in terms of A•m2 (amperes times meters squared).
A magnet both produces its own magnetic field and responds to magnetic fields. The strength of the magnetic field it produces is at any given point proportional to the magnitude of its magnetic moment. In addition, when the magnet is put into an external magnetic field, produced by a different source, it is subject to a torque tending to orient the magnetic moment parallel to the field. The amount of this torque is proportional both to the magnetic moment and the external field. A magnet may also be subject to a force driving it in one direction or another, according to the positions and orientations of the magnet and source. If the field is uniform in space, the magnet is subject to no net force, although it is subject to a torque.

Magnetization
The magnetization of a magnetized material is the local value of its magnetic moment per unit volume, usually denoted M, with units A/m. It is a vector field, rather than just a vector (like the magnetic moment), because different areas in a magnet can be magnetized with different directions and strengths (for example, because of domains, see below). A good bar magnet may have a magnetic moment of magnitude 0.1 A•m2 and a volume of 1 cm3, or 1×10−6 m3, and therefore an average magnetization magnitude is 100,000 A/m. Iron can have a magnetization of around a million amperes per meter. Such a large value explains why iron magnets are so effective at producing magnetic fields.

Source: Wikipedia in English

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