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Q & A: shapes of magnets

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Most recent answer: 10/16/2011
Q:
All the magnets I've seen are flat. Can you make a molded, 3D magnet in the shape of a cube or sphere, or pyramid, or maybe an irregular shape?. And also, what do you do to a magnet while you're making it to make it stronger?
- Sergei (age 8)
Berkeley CA USA
A:
Sergei- Yes, you can make magnets of any shape. Around the lab, we've got ones that are little cubes, disks, and so forth.

The key stage in forming the magnet is to  heat up the material and let it cool down in a large magnetic field made by an electromagnet. That aligns the direction of magnetism in most of the material's magnetic domains. In the right sort of material, the domains don't flop around much once they're cold.

Mike W.

(published on 10/16/2011)

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