History, Facts, and Uses of Neodymium Rare Earth Magnets

History, Facts, and Uses of Neodymium Rare Earth Magnets

  • The element Neodymium was discovered by the Austrian chemist Carl Auer von Welsbach in Vienna in 1885. The name neodymium is derived from the Greek words neos (νέος), new, and didymos (διδύμος), twin.

  • Nearly a century later, General Motors (GM) and a Japanese steel company simultaneously discovered neodymium rare earth magnets in 1894. Both companies research was initially driven by the high raw materials cost of other permanent magnets available.

  • Neodymium magnets are the strongest permanent magnets known. A neodymium magnet of a few grams can lift a thousand times its own weight.

  • Most of the worlds commercial neodymium is mined in China.

  • Due to its role in permanent magnets used for direct-drive wind turbines, it has been argued that neodymium will be one of the main objects of geopolitical competition in a world running on renewable energy. 

  • Uses for neodymium rare earth magnets are incredibly diverse and can be found across many industries. Here is a list of the top eleven:

    1. Magnetic Resonance Imaging: MRIs are medical imaging devices that interact with your body on the tiniest of levels. The magnets affect the electrons in each atom of your body, then captures an image of the effect. The effect is varied depending on the type of tissue, giving a useful diagnostic image the medical field often relies on.
    2. Magnotherapy: The scientific jury isn't out on this one yet, but the number of people who swear by magnetic therapy is staggering. In magnotherapy, patients subject part of their body to a magnetic field by wearing magnetic jewelry or using other items on a regular basis, leading to (they say) pain relief, increased blood flow, or one of many other claims.
    3. Audio Equipment: Speakers are controlled by two magnets and an electric current. A mobile electromagnetic coil is suspended near a fixed magnet, and an electric current is pushed through the coil very quickly. As the coil is charged, it is attracted to the magnet and repelled again, causing vibrations that are amplified and become music to your ears.
    4. Lifting Large Loads: Magnets are used in many fields to lift things, from collecting dropped metal pieces, to moving cars, to recovering sunken metal vehicles from underwater. Their lack of moving parts and extreme lifting capacity makes magnets a practical choice.
    5. Accelerating the Aging of Wine and Liquor: Apparently, some people swear that exposing wine or liquor to strong magnetic fields accelerates the aging process. We have not experimented with this yet, but you may want to. Please drink responsibly.
    6. Flying: OK, levitation. But the use of magnets to make objects levitate is just as cool. This technology is currently being experimented with for applications from hoverboards to efficient vehicles, as well and moving industrial parts. And you can easily find plans for hovering toys that use small magnets online.
    7. Magic Tricks: Oh, the amazing things you can do with strong magnets.
    8. Metal Detectors: Looking for metal or that elusive property pin? Put a large neodymium magnet on a stick or pole and you should be able to find it quickly.
    9. Electric Guitar Pickups: Neodymium magnets provide power that allows electric guitar pickups to sense the movement of the strings when the guitar is played.
    10. Jewelry: Magnets are everywhere in jewelry. The most convenient clasps are made from magnets and piercing free earrings depend on them. Recently, many interesting chains that use magnets to morph from bracelet to necklace quickly have been flooding stores.
    11. Dentures: Very small neodymium magnetic attachments are used to securely hold some dentures in place making it easier for users to eat, talk and do other things without slippage.

Here at CopperTownUSA, neodymium are the only magnets we use on our copper jewelry, and after reading this article, it instantly becomes no secret as to why.


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