Is Nickel Magnetic?

The element Nickel (Ni) is one of the few ferromagnetic metals. Ferromagnetic  means they are attracted to magnets and can be magnetized themselves. Most metals aren’t magnetic with the exception of iron, nickel, cobalt, gadolinium, neodymium and samarium.

Because Nickel (Ni) is ferromagnetic it is used in making Alnico magnets (consisting of aluminiumnickel, and cobalt).

Note that the U.S. five cent coin called a “Nickel” is made of 75% copper and 25% Nickel (Ni).  Even though it contains Nickel (Ni), a ferromagnetic material, they aren’t visibly attracted to magnets.In fact, they don’t interact with magnets like many other non-magnetic materials.

What is interesting is that dimes and quarters will visibly interact with a moving magnet. This is odd because dimes are quarters are both about 92% Cu and 8% Ni – not too different than Nickel (the coin). It’s even been noted that Nickels are harder to find with metal detectors than other coins.  There’s a scientific mystery here to be solved (if you have an idea please leave a comment for the video).

Video of Quarters, Dimes, and Nickels and Moving Neodynium Magnet

An interesting effect is the interaction of a strong magnet with a non-magnetic material like copper or aluminum.  If you made a pipe of quarters or dimes you’d see the same set as below.  However, if you used Nickels it wouldn’t work.

It may be that the Nickel (Ni) in the nickel coin somehow disrupts the electrical currents. This seems possible since adding Nickel (Ni) to Iron, Carbon, and Chromium a form of stainless steel is created that is not magnetic even though it contains Iron. But dimes and quarters have Nickel as well, just less.

What about magnets in outer space?