What IS Ferrofluid?!

by

For those who have been to the Thinkery, when you first arrived, you may have noticed a machine in the middle of Spark Shop with black goo inside and wondered “What the heck is THAT?!”.

It’s ferrofluid!

Ferrofluid is a very special type of material that can act like a liquid and also a magnetic solid. It is made of nanoscale (aka SUPER tiny) ferrimagnetic particles and suspended in a liquid (like oil). When no magnet is nearby, the material acts like a liquid, but when a magnet is nearby, the particles become temporarily magnetized and the ferrofluid acts like a solid. When the magnet’s removed, it returns to it’s liquid state.

Ferrofluid in its magnetized state (here at the Thinkery in our ferrofluid machine!).
Ferrofluid in its magnetized state (here at the Thinkery in our ferrofluid machine!).

Ferrofluid is used in a number of ways, from protecting hard drives to providing heat conduction in speakers, to biomedical uses, but can also be seen and experienced in our electrical machine here at the Thinkery!

A number of our installations, like the ferrofluid machine, were put together by the team at Creative Machines. Just before Grand Opening, our Museum Career Ladder student Dominic got a chance to interview Josh Gill, one of the mechanical engineers at Creative Machines, about the exhibits being built, how he became a mechanical engineer, and some of the favorite things of his job. Stay tuned for more video content throughout the year on our Thinkery YouTube Channel!

Comments are closed.