Revision Notes

4.1.2 Magnetic Materials

What are Magnetic Materials?

  • A magnetic material is a material that experiences a force when placed in a magnetic field
  • Although all magnetic materials are metallic, not all metals are magnetic
  • Common magnetic materials include:
    • Iron
    • Steel (an alloy of iron)
    • Nickel
    • Cobalt
  • Note: Copper and Aluminium are non-magnetic

magnetic-materials, IGCSE & GCSE Physics revision notes

Magnetic materials, such as iron, steel, nickel (the coin) and cobalt, are attracted to magnets


Hard and Soft Materials

  • Magnetically soft materials (e.g. Iron):
    • Are easy to magnetise
    • Easily lose their magnetism
  • Magnetically hard materials (e.g. Steel):
    • Are hard to magnetise
    • Do not easily lose their magnetism
  • Permanent magnets are made out of magnetically hard materials, as we don’t want them to lose their magnetism
  • Electromagnets are made out of magnetically soft materials, as we want them to be able to easily gain and lose their magnetism


Induced Magnetism

  • When a magnetic material is placed in a magnetic field, the material can temporarily become magnetised:
    • One end of the material will become a north pole
    • The other end will become a south pole

magnetic-induction, IGCSE & GCSE Physics revision notes

When a magnet is held close to a magnetic material, the material temporarily becomes magnetised 

  • This process is known as magnetic induction and results in a force being exerted on the material
  • When the material is removed from the magnetic field, it will start to lose its magnetism (depending on whether it is magnetically hard or soft)

Author: Jenna

Jenna studied at Cardiff University before training to become a science teacher at the University of Bath specialising in Biology (although she loves teaching all three sciences at GCSE level!). Teaching is her passion, and with 10 years experience teaching across a wide range of specifications – from GCSE and A Level Biology in the UK to IGCSE and IB Biology internationally – she knows what is required to pass those Biology exams.

Join Save My Exams

Download all our Revision Notes as PDFs

Try a Free Sample of our revision notes as a printable PDF.

Join Now