Different types of materials behave differently when exposed to a magnetic field. Some types of materials are immune to the effects of magnets. Other materials may pull towards or push away from magnets.
Ferromagnetic, paramagnetic and diamagnetic are often used to describe the way in which materials behave when exposed to a magnetic field.
What Is Ferromagnetic?
Ferromagnetic materials exhibit a strong attraction towards magnets. They don’t necessarily produce their own magnetic field; only magnets produce a magnetic field. Ferromagnetic materials simply pull themselves towards magnets. They have a strong attraction towards magnets.
Some of the most common types of ferromagnetic materials include the following:
What Is Paramagnetic?
Paramagnetic materials exhibit a weak attraction towards magnets. They still pull themselves towards magnets, but paramagnetic materials are much weaker than ferromagnetic materials. Aluminum is classified as a paramagnetic material. Aluminum objects will pull themselves towards magnets, but they require special instruments to measure this attraction due to their weakness.
Another difference between ferromagnetic and paramagnetic materials is that the former are attracted to both poles of magnets, whereas the latter are only attracted to a single pole. Ferromagnetic materials will pull themselves towards the north and south poles of magnets. Paramagnetic materials, on the other hand, will only pull themselves towards one of these poles.
What Is Diamagnetic?
Diamagnetic materials are those that repel magnets. They don’t exhibit any attraction to magnets. Rather, diamagnetic materials exhibit the opposite behavior: they repel magnets. All diamagnetic materials exhibit a repelling action when exposed to a magnetic field.
It’s important to note that diamagnetic materials may exhibit a weak or strong repelling behavior. Some diamagnetic materials will visually push away from magnets, meaning they have a strong repelling behavior. Other diamagnetic materials will look like they are immune to the effects of magnets.
Carbon and plastic, for example, are classified as diamagnetic materials. You can’t see carbon or plastic objects pulling away from magnets. Nonetheless, they exhibit a weak repelling action that automatically pulls them away from both poles.
Differences Between Ferromagnetic, Paramagnetic and Diamagnetic
The way in which a material behaves when exposed to a magnetic field can often be described as ferromagnetic, paramagnetic or diamagnetic. Ferromagnetic materials are strongly attracted to both poles of magnets. Paramagnetic materials are weakly attracted to a single pole. Diamagnetic materials are the most unique of these three types, as they repel both poles of magnets.