The emerging technology of ferro fluid is one with broad and perhaps endless applications. Currently the technology is being used by NASA, in computers, medicine and art applications among others. This exciting technology is something that everyone should be aware of.
Simply put a ferro fluid is a paramagnetic solution infused with nanoscale particles: generally, the particles are a compound that contains iron. That means that you have a liquid of evenly distributed particles that react to a strong magnetic field. The key to the distribution is the coating of the particles known as surfactants. These surfactants prevent the particles from clumping together and compromising the solution. What this means is that you have a liquid that reacts strongly to magnetic fields in the form of peaks and valleys, mirroring the applied magnetic field in a uniform fashion.
These attributes have made this liquid useful in multiple applications. In drive shafts ferro fluid is surrounded by magnets and is used as a seal to protect the internal hard drive from foreign objects. NASA found a use for the substance in its experiments with altitude control systems. They essentially filled a loop with the substance inside a rotating craft and when a magnetic field is applied, it changes the motion of the craft. Research in medicine has found the fluid to be used in resonance imaging and particularly useful in detection of cancer. Experiments are also underway which use ferro fluids in the actual treatment of cancer. Other applications in loudspeakers, optics and even art are currently utilizing this amazing substance.
Because the substance is so alien to our everyday experience, and quite beautiful, many people like educators, museum curators and just everyday people have used the liquid for fun or as a science lesson for children. Anyone can make this fluid at home, fascinate their children, and turn them on to the sciences. There are several ways to create the substance but the simplest way is to purchase some magnetic ink and mix it with vegetable oil or whatever organic oil you have around the house. The most difficult part of this method is perhaps getting some of the ink, but a little research on line should make it fairly easy to acquire. Once you have the liquid do some research on line and check out some of the cool experiments you can perform with the liquid. There are some excellent ideas for science fairs or class projects. The more artistically inclined children may want to experiment with its applications in art.
Because ferro fluid has such broad application, everyone should become acquainted with this amazing substance. Artists, engineers and researchers have found the substance to be useful in countless ways. With a little creativity and research, you and your family can as well.