Permanent magnet

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A horseshoe magnet with iron filings on the poles as an example of a permanent magnet

A permanent magnet (also known as permanent magnet ) is a magnet made from a piece of hard magnetic material, for example alloys made from iron , cobalt , nickel or certain ferrites . It has and maintains a constant magnetic field , without having to use electrical power as with electromagnets . Permanent magnets have one or more north and south pole (s) on their surface.

The first man-made permanent magnet materials were made by John Canton around 1750 .


Hysteresis curve of a magnetizable material: an external field H magnetizes a previously non-magnetic material (blue curve) and leaves a remaining magnetization B R after its decrease to zero
Iron filings on paper that have been aligned according to the field of a bar magnet below

A permanent magnet can be generated by the action of a magnetic field on a ferrimagnetic or ferromagnetic material with a large-area hysteresis curve (so-called hard magnetic material). Early magnetic materials based on iron gave rise to the terms hard magnetic and soft magnetic : hard, carbon-rich steel can be made permanently magnetic, while low-carbon, soft iron (soft iron) can hardly be permanently magnetized and is therefore better suited for the production of iron cores for electromagnets . A permanent magnet can be demagnetized by a decaying alternating magnetic field, heating or impact .

The most popular form in everyday life are ferrite magnets, e.g. B. as a magnet or - provided with iron pole pieces - as a cabinet door lock.

  • A permanent magnet acts on all ferromagnetic materials such as B. iron and on ferrimagnetic substances - such as ferrites - an attraction.
  • Two permanent magnets attract each other with their opposite poles and repel poles with the same name.

Rings magnetized along the circumference have no poles (see e.g. core memory ) and do not exert any forces - although they are magnetized, they are not referred to as permanent magnets. Magnetized layers of magnetic tapes , magnetic strips or hard drives have poles, but are not referred to as permanent magnets either.

In contrast to the graphic shown, the hysteresis curves of magnetizable, hard magnetic materials are particularly wide and resemble a rectangle in which the almost vertical curves intersect the field strength axis at high field strengths at Hc. The graphic shown rather shows the hysteresis curve of a soft magnetic material, which is, for example, when recording the hysteresis curve in a transformer with only a small air gap or in an Epstein frame .

With soft magnetic materials, such as sheet metal or ferrites for transformer cores, the hysteresis curve is very narrow and intersects the field strength axis at low field strength values.


Energy product
The energy product, also known as the BH product, is the entire field energy stored in the magnet .
Energy density
The energy density is the magnetic energy related to the volume of the magnet.
Coercive field strength H C
The field strength must be applied to completely demagnetize the magnet (flux density B  = 0) is the intersection of the hysteresis curve with the axis of the field strength H . The greater the coercive force , the greater the magnet's resistance to demagnetization by external fields.
Maximum operating temperature
While the Curie temperature indicates the point at which the ferromagnetic property of a material disappears, the macroscopic orientation of the Weiss domains and thus the permanent magnet properties disappear irreversibly even at significantly lower temperatures. In general, this macroscopic orientation is unstable at temperatures above absolute zero, but in practical use a temperature range can be specified for the relevant materials in which the unavoidable demagnetization proceeds imperceptibly slowly or is essentially determined by mechanical stress .
Remanence B R
With Retention refers to the flux density that occurs without an external field. Its value can be read off the hysteresis curve as the value of B at H = 0.

Permanent magnet materials

Development of the magnetic energy density of permanent magnets


Permanent magnets used to be made of steel . But they are very weak and can be demagnetized very easily. The most famous form are horseshoe magnets. Permanent magnetizations can also form in steel tools through plastic mechanical deformation. This is an indication of their mechanical overload.


AlNiCo magnets consist of iron alloys with aluminum, nickel and cobalt as the main alloying elements. These materials can be used up to 500 ° C, but have a relatively low energy density and coercive field strength. The remanence is higher than with the ferrite magnets. They are manufactured by casting or powder metallurgical processes . They have good corrosion resistance, but they are fragile and hard.


Bismanol , an alloy of bismuth , manganese and iron, is an alloy that is a strong but no longer common permanent magnet material.


Magnets made of hard magnetic ferrites are inexpensive, but relatively weak and have a maximum service temperature of 250 ° C. Typical applications are holding magnets and field magnets in DC motors and electrodynamic loudspeakers .

Rare earth magnets

Neodymium-Iron-Boron (NdFeB) enables very strong magnets at an acceptable cost. For a long time, the operating temperatures were limited to a maximum of 60–120 ° C. For more recent developments with additives such as dysprosium , operating temperatures of up to 200 ° C are specified.
Samarium cobalt
Samarium-Cobalt (SmCo) with 20-25% iron content enables strong permanent magnets with high energy density and high operating temperature. The disadvantage is the high price.

Plastic magnets

A special type of magnet material are non-metallic, organic plastics with permanent magnetic properties, such as the plastic magnet material PANiCNQ , which has ferrimagnetic properties at room temperature .


Permanent magnets are mostly pressed into a mold from crystalline powder in the presence of a strong magnetic field. The crystals align themselves with their preferred magnetization axis in the direction of the magnetic field. The compacts are then sintered . If the sintering temperature is above 1000 ° C, the outwardly effective magnetization is lost because the thermal movement of the atoms leads to the largely anti-parallel alignment of the elementary magnets in the crystals. Since the orientation of the grains in the sintered composite is not lost, the parallel alignment of the elementary currents can be restored after the magnets have cooled down with a sufficiently strong magnetization pulse.


See also

Specialist literature

  • Horst Stöcker: Pocket book of physics . 4th edition. Harry Deutsch, Frankfurt am Main 2000, ISBN 3-8171-1628-4 .
  • Hans Fischer: Materials in electrical engineering . 2nd Edition. Carl Hanser, Munich / Vienna 1982, ISBN 3-446-13553-7 .
  • Günter Springer: Expertise in electrical engineering . 18th edition. Europa Lehrmittel, 1989, ISBN 3-8085-3018-9 .

Web links

Commons : Magnets  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Johann Christian Schedel: Johann Christian Schedel's new and complete, general ware encyclopedia or precise and cumbersome description of all raw and processed products, artifacts and commercial items, initially written for merchants, commissioners, manufacturers, brokers and business people. 3rd, completely reworked, improved, and with many hundreds of additions and new articles increased edition. Carl Ludwig Brede, Offenbach on Mayn 1800.
  2. Bismanol
  3. ^ Naveed A. Zaidi, SR Giblin, I. Terry, AP Monkman: Room temperature magnetic order in an organic magnet derived from polyaniline . In: polymer . 45, No. 16, 2004, pp. 5683-5689. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  4. ^ Johan K. Fremerey: Permanent Magnetic Bearings. (PDF) In: Publication 0B30-A30. Forschungszentrum Jülich, accessed on May 21, 2010 .
  5. V112-3.0 MW ( Memento from August 14, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 2.4 MB). (Product description from Vestas).