Can stainless/steel be used as electromagnet?

  1. I know you can used iron wrapped around with copper coil to create electromagnet , can it be done with steel? Or must it always be iron?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Andrew Mason

    Andrew Mason 6,805
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    You can certainly create an electromagnet with a stainless steel core. You can create an electromagnet with a paper core. It is just that the strength of the magnetic field will not be as high as with a soft iron core. The reason is that the iron molecules in pure iron are like little bar magnets that can align with a magnetic field and thereby increase the magnetic field strength. Paper molecules are not like that. Stainless steel is not that good either because the nickel molecules create bonds with the iron molecules that prevent the iron molecules from moving and aligning with the magnetic field.

    AM
     
  4. Thanks
     
  5. UltrafastPED

    UltrafastPED 1,919
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  6. Chronos

    Chronos 9,783
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    Permanent magnets are still widely used to sort scrap metal.
     
  7. AlephZero

    AlephZero 7,298
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    As the Scientific American article points out, there are two main types of stainless steel with different magnetic properties. Compared with iron, the magnetic effect is either small or non-existent.

    The term "steel" covers a wide range of different alloys. "Electrical steel" has magnetic properties very similar to pure iron, and is used to make the laminations in transformer cores, etc.

    Another issue is that most types of steel tend to become permanently magnetized, unlike iron. This is not very useful for an electromagnet, where you want the magnetic field to disappear when the current is switched off.
     
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