# Why aren't atoms magnets? dont their electrons generate magnetic fields?

• lagmonster
In summary, atoms are magnetic due to their spin. However, since the spin and precession of the electron creates magnetic fields, these fields are usually too small to be detected.
lagmonster
help pls! since electrons cr8 a magnetic field due to their spin, shouldn't atoms be magnetic? o0

well let's look at the hydrogn atom ( the most abundant and simple atom in the universe) The nucleus of a simple hydrogen atom contains a single charged particle called a Proton and moving around the proton is a single electron. The mass of the electron is close to 2000 times smaller the mass of the proton, the electron carries an amount of charge exactly equal to that of a proton but opposite in sign since opposite charges attract each other its ELECTROMAGNETIC force which holds the proton and the electron together just as gravity holds our planets to the sun..

but both electrons and protons each have a fundamental charge, equal and opposite each other, so those cancel out each other.
but a moving charged particle, like an electron, also creates its own magnetic field, in addition to the fundamental charge it carries.
how do this work in, since this extra charge doesn't seem to "Cancel" anywhere?

lagmonster said:
help pls! since electrons cr8 a magnetic field due to their spin, shouldn't atoms be magnetic? o0

oh atoms are magnetic:
Electrons have both orbital mechanical moment and spin.

moving charge creates magnetic field.

Electron's magnetic orbital moment due the orbital mechanical moment equals the latter multiplied by the constant named Bohr's Magneton.

Electron's magnetic moment due spin equals the spin multiplied by twice the Bohr's Magneton.

(Due to this difference the total magnetic moment of the electron is not collinear with the total mechanical moment)

Now the nuclei consist of protons and neutrons, which also have their own spin, orbital moments etc, which generally result in certain magnetic moment, not collinear to the total mechanical moment.

Summarising, it is clear that the total magnetic moment of the whole atom is nonzero, but in some cases (for example zero-level hydrogen atom) it can equal 0...

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Atoms do have magnetic fields (and the spin and precession of the electron creates magnetic fields).

However these magnetic fields are tought to cancel each other in non-magnetic materials (or the magnetic field is extermely small). In some permanent magnets these spins are aligned in such way that they produce a net magnetic effect.

o0 heh hemmul sry haven't gotten to your level of understanding yet but i think i kind of get it

mrjeffy321 said:
but both electrons and protons each have a fundamental charge, equal and opposite each other, so those cancel out each other.
but a moving charged particle, like an electron, also creates its own magnetic field, in addition to the fundamental charge it carries.
how do this work in, since this extra charge doesn't seem to "Cancel" anywhere?

opposite charges cannot cancel each other. if the cansel than the force of attraction might fall. if they canscel each other and still be attached then one should have more charge than the other.
therefore no cancelling is taking place only interaction.
even resudal forces prove that charges don't cancel each other.

-Benzun
newbie

Not ALL atoms have magnetic moment, at least, not in any measurable sense. Only atoms with (i) valence shell with a non-zero angular momentum (i.e. not an s-orbital), and (ii) one or more unpaired valence shell, are the ones exhibiting clear magnetic moment AND, the predominant source of magnetism in matter. Iron and cromium, for example, have unpaired d-orbitals. This satisfies BOTH criteria above.

While both the nucleus and the electrons in an atom have their own "spin" angular momentum, these are often too small to detect in the usual magnetic measurements. The nuclear spin is only used in NMR/MRI scenario, but even then not all nucleus exhibit such spins (He4, for example, does not, and below some temperature, condenses into a boson with net spin of 0).

Zz.

## 1. Why don't atoms act like magnets even though they have electrons that generate magnetic fields?

While electrons do generate magnetic fields, the overall structure and arrangement of electrons in an atom makes it difficult for the atom to act as a magnet. The electrons in an atom are constantly in motion and spinning in different directions, which cancels out the overall magnetic field of the atom.

## 2. Can atoms become magnets if their electrons are arranged in a specific way?

Yes, certain arrangements of electrons can create a strong enough magnetic field to make an atom act as a magnet. This is seen in elements such as iron, cobalt, and nickel, which have a specific arrangement of electrons that allows them to have a permanent magnetic field.

## 3. Why do some materials, like iron, exhibit magnetism while others do not?

The presence of a strong magnetic field in materials like iron is due to the unique arrangement of electrons in the atoms of these materials. These materials have a high number of unpaired electrons, which can align in the same direction and create a strong magnetic field.

## 4. Can atoms be manipulated to become magnets?

Yes, atoms can be manipulated to become magnets by applying an external magnetic field to them. This process is called magnetization and involves aligning the electrons in the atoms in the same direction, creating a magnetic field that persists even after the external field is removed.

## 5. Why are some materials attracted to magnets while others are not?

The attraction between magnets and materials is due to the alignment of electrons in these materials. Materials with unpaired electrons, like iron, are attracted to magnets because their electrons can align with the external magnetic field. On the other hand, materials with all paired electrons, like copper, are not attracted to magnets as their electrons cannot align with the external field.

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