Magnetic Properties

After completing this section you will be able to do the following:

  • Explain how small magnets can be while retaining its magnetic properties.


  1. What is happening when you cut the magnet?
  2. How small do you think you can make a magnet before it no longer acts like a magnet?

What is happening when you cut a magnet?

A magnet can be cut into smaller and smaller pieces indefinitely, and each piece will still act as a small magnet. Thus, the cause of magnetism must be from a property of the smallest particles of the material, the atoms. So what is it about the atoms of magnets, or objects that can be magnetized (ferromagnetic materials), that is different from the atoms of other material? For example, why is it that copper keys or aluminum soda cans cannot be magnetized?