Silver is not a magnetic material in its pure elemental form. Magnetic materials can either be attracted to a magnet when exposed to a magnetic field or be magnetized themselves.
Why Silver Is Not Magnetic
The absence magnetic properties in silver is down to its atomic structure. Magnetic materials typically have unpaired electrons in the atomic orbitals possessing intrinsic magnetic moments that contribute to the material’s magnetic behavior.
However, silver lacks these unpaired electrons and thus fails to exhibit magnetism.
Nonetheless, silver exhibits diamagnetism which is a weak and opposite magnetic response when placed in an external magnetic field.
When you put silver in the presence of a strong magnetic field, it will develop a very weak magnetic moment in the opposite direction of the applied field. However, this effect is so weak often unnoticeable.
Magnetic Silver Alloys
Silver alloys can exhibit magnetic properties when magnetic elements are combined with silver. Metals such as iron and nickel when alloyed with silver result in a material with magnetic properties. This is thanks to iron and nickel being ferromagnetic materials.
Note that the alloy’s magnetic behavior will depend on the alloying ratio. Such alloys are utilized where magnetism is desired in addition to silver’s strength, conductivity and durability. Some silver alloys that are magnetic include:
- Silver-Cadmium Alloys: While cadmium itself is not strongly magnetic, its use in a silver alloy can result in magnetic behavior. Silver-cadmium alloys have a tendency to exhibit magnetic properties especially at lower temperatures.
- Silver-Iron Alloys: Iron being a ferromagnetic material makes silver-iron most likely to exhibit magnetic properties. The strength of the alloy’s magnetism will be influenced by the amount of iron.
- Silver-Nickel Alloys: Nickel is also ferromagnetic capable of being attracted to a magnet and also be magnetized. Silver-nickel alloys with high nickel content can exhibit magnetic properties.
While silver lacks magnetic properties thanks to its atomic structure, combining it with other magnetic elements does allow some magnetism. The diamagnetic response in the presence of strong magnetic fields is not strong enough to be usefully harnessed.