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In a lab accident, scientist, the first step towards a permanent magnetic liquid

The permanently magnetized liquid droplets to spin in perfect harmony.
(Xubo Liu et al./Berkeley Lab’s)

For the first time, scientists have developed a permanent-magnetic fluid. With this, liquid droplets can be change into different shapes and can be externally manipulated in order to move it, according to a new study.

We will usually assume that your magnets are strong, said senior author Thomas Russell, is a distinguished professor of polymer science and engineering at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. However, we now know that “we will be able to make the magnets, which are liquid, and they will be able to meet the different shapes, and the shapes are really up to you.”

The liquid droplets may be a change in the shape of a sphere, a cylinder, a pancake, he told Live Science. “We can [even] make it look like a sea urchin, if we wanted to.” [9 Cool Facts About Magnets]

Russell and his team have created some of these liquid magnets are the result of an accident while experimenting with the 3D printing of fluids with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where Russell is also a visiting faculty scholar). The goal is to create materials that are strong, but they have the characteristics of fluids for a variety of applications, from power.

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One day, a post-doctoral student and lead author Xubo Liu saw the 3D-printed material, are made of magnetized particles, referred to as iron oxides, to rotate in unison on a magnetic stir plate. So, when the team realized that the structure as a whole, not only of the particles become magnetic, they decided to investigate further.

With the aid of a technique for 3D printing liquid, the scientists have created a millimeter-size droplets of a water -, oil -, and iron-oxides. The liquid droplets keep their shape, since at least some of the iron oxide particles bind with the surface-active substances, substances lowering the surface tension of a liquid. The surface-active substances, the making of a film on the water, with a little bit of iron-oxide particles, which are part of the fuzzy barrier, and the rest of the particles are embedded inside, Russell said.

The team will then be posted on the millimeter-sized droplets in the vicinity of a magnetic coil to magnetize them. However, when the magnetic coil is gone, the drops were a totally new behavior in the media — it continued to be magnetized. (Magnetic liquids called ferrofluids do exist, but these solutions are only magnetized when in the presence of a magnetic field.

When these droplets and contacted with a magnetic field, the tiny iron-oxide particles are all aligned in the same direction. And once it is removed from the magnetic field, the iron oxide particles are bonded to the surfactant in the film was so jam-packed that they’re no longer able to move, and, therefore, continued to be out of alignment. But for those of you who are free-floating in the drop of water continued to well up.

The scientists do not fully understand how these particles stick to the field, Russell said. As soon as they are out of it, there are a lot of possible applications. For example, Russell, for the very first time, the print cylinder having a non-magnetic in the middle and two magnetic caps. “The two sides should come together, like a horseshoe magnet,” and it can be used as a mini – “good thing,” he said.

In an even more bizarre purposes, assume that a mini-fluid-being — a smaller version of the liquid T-1000 from the second “Terminator” film, Russell said. Now imagine that a portion of the mini-fluid-man magnetised and the parts are not. An external magnetic field can force a little person to take to move your limbs like a puppet.

“I think it’s a kind of a condition, a state of a magnetic material,” Russell said. The findings were published July 19 in the journal Science.

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Originally published on Live Science.

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