Is Aluminum Magnetic

Under normal situations, pure aluminum is not magnetic.

However, there are other fascinating things you should know about the magnetic properties of aluminum.

For instance, you could be asking why aluminum metal is not magnetic, or whether you can magnetize aluminum, among other fundamental issues on its magnetism.

Why is Aluminum not Magnetic?

Magnetic metals vs Non-magnetic metals
Magnetic metals vs Non-magnetic metals

The non-magnetic properties of aluminum are due to the metal’s crystal structure.

In pure form, aluminum is known for its face-centered-cubic (FCC) crystal structure, which determines aluminum magnetism.

Aluminum is a paramagnetic material. This explains the unique aluminum magnetic properties.

Paramagnetic materials experience attraction when subjected to a magnetic field. This is attributed to a few electrons that tend to “spin” in the same direction. As a result, it tends to give the atom some degree of polarity explaining the weak magnetic attraction.

Paramagnetic
Paramagnetic – Photo credits: Sciencing

Paramagnetic materials such as aluminum have unpaired electrons besides having unaligned dipoles. With the misalignment of dipoles in aluminum they affected with external magnetic field to a certain degree.

Putting this into perspective when evaluating aluminum magnetic properties:

In some circumstances, aluminum may behave as a weak magnet when subjected to strong magnetic field. Usually, aluminum’s magnetic property is temporary.

Weak Magnetism in Aluminum vs Aluminum Electrons

The electron configuration in aluminum is such as 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p1. So, generally, aluminum has 13 electrons.

Therefore, in a situation where we have paired electrons in aluminum, they will spin in different directions. Therefore, the net dipole moment will cancel out.

However, aluminum only has one unpaired electron. Therefore, as the one unpaired electron spins, the dipole moment will not cancel out. Eventually, this makes these spinning electrons “tiny magnets”.

Therefore, in a situation where there are strong magnets, aluminum will form a “weak” magnet.

Factors Affecting Aluminum Magnetism

Whenever you are investigating magnetism in aluminum, the discussion focuses on three main aspects:

· Electron Configurations

Aluminum Electron Configuration
Aluminum Electron Configuration

Free electrons spinning in aluminum structure produces the “weak” magnetism in aluminum. Remember, the free electrons are bound loosely on the aluminum lattice. However, this movement is so insignificant to make them ferromagnetic materials.

· Presence of Magnets

The “weak” magnetism is only present due to a strong magnetic field within the vicinity of the material. Generally, the magnetic susceptibility of aluminum is about 2.2 χm. This is extremely low.

· Magnetic Coating

Coating aluminum material with ferromagnetic substances such as nickel or iron oxide will make the material exhibit magnetic properties. However, it is important to note that this does not make the primary material (aluminum) magnetic.

Aluminum Non-magnetic Property vs Practical Applications

Aluminum Winding on Transformer
Aluminum Winding on Transformer

The small magnetic susceptibility in aluminum material makes it perfect for many applications such as:

· Electrical and Electronic Systems

In electrical and electronic systems, you need good conductors and lightweight materials. At the same time, you must reduce the possibility of magnetic interference or even eddy current.

This makes aluminum a perfect material for these applications.

· Magnetic Shielding

At times, you may wish to block the effects of magnets in some applications. Due to low magnetic susceptibility aluminum can easily block magnet effects in certain applications.

· Tools and Equipment

In the medical, and electronics industry, there is a high demand for non-magnetic tools. This makes aluminum a perfect material for tool fabrication.

FAQs

Can a Magnet Stick on Aluminum Material?

Under normal circumstances, aluminum is not magnetic. However, adding ferromagnetic elements can improve aluminum magnetism. In such situations, the magnet can stick to an aluminum alloy.

Can you Magnetize Aluminum?

In its pure form – it is not possible.

However, additional processes such as adding coating such as iron oxide may improve magnetism in aluminum.

Are Aluminum Alloys Magnets?

When aluminum is alloyed with ferromagnetic materials, they can become magnets.

A good example is the alnico magnets. Although Alnico is a ferromagnetic material, it also has aluminum, nickel, and nickel as the main elements.

Usually, the amount of aluminum in Alnico magnets varies between 6% and 13%.

Does Aluminum Follow Curie Law?

Yes.

Ideally, the degree of magnetization is directly proportional to the magnetic field present around the vicinity of aluminum material.

Is Aluminum Foil Magnetic?

No.

Conclusion

In short, aluminum in its pure form is a non-magnetic material. However, aluminum is a paramagnetic material making it have some fascinating magnetic properties.

More Resources:

Magnetic Properties of Aluminum – Source: UMD

Facts about Aluminum Magnetism – Source: LAMBDA

 

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