Yes, chromium is magnetic.
Follow along as we describe what Chromium is, what it does, and why its magnetic properties, as well as oxidation resistance, are so important for manufacturing and industry.
Is Chromium Magnetic? (EXPLAINED)
Chromium is recognized by its silvery-white color.
It is hard yet brittle and resistant to ordinary corrosive reagents.
Chromium is an abundant element found in the earth’s crust.
Most ores consist of mineral chromite in the formula of FeCr2O4, which is widely spread in natural deposits.
These deposits are contaminated with oxygen, magnesium, aluminum, and silica, with their chromium content varying from 42%-56%.
When exposed to a magnetic field, chromium becomes magnetized.
While Chromium has certain magnetic properties, there are instances where temperature changes affect the strength of the magnetism.
What is Chromium?
Chromium is a chemical element of Group 6 (VIb) which falls under the symbol Cr on the periodic table.
It consists of 24 protons, meaning the atomic number is 24.
The mass number for Chromium is 54 and generally has 28 neutrons.
However, depending on the type of isotope, it can also have more or fewer neutrons.
Isotopes are two or more types of atoms that have the same atomic number and position in the periodic table, which also differ in the number of nucleon numbers because of the different types of neutrons in those specific nuclei.
Chromium is made up of the following four stable isotopes:
- Chromium-52 (83.76%)
- Chromium-53 (9.55%)
- Chromium-50 (4.32%)
- Chromium-54 (2.38%)
Chromium Isotope Uses
Due to their unique magnetic properties, Chromium isotopes have many uses within the scientific community and in industry.
For instance, Chromium 50 is utilized in neutrino detector calibration, strong neutron field detection, and radionuclide production.
It is also widely used for diagnostic purposes.
This isotope is of particular interest for its uses in the life sciences, healthcare, as well as in various medical applications and within the pharmaceutical industry.
Interestingly, chromium 50 and chromium 52 isotopes are part of the production process used to create synthetic rubies.
Chromium 53 isotopes in electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) studies help to identify irregularities in various substances such as glass and ceramic materials.
Chromium 54 isotopes are used in studies conducted on diabetes and metabolism.
How to Identify Chromium
Chromium is a bright and shiny, silver/grey-white metal. Its primary noticeable quality is that it does not lose color or stain when exposed to the air.
When heated, chromium forms a green chromic oxide.
As it is then unstable when exposed to oxygen, chromium produces a thin layer of oxide that is impenetrable by oxygen, and the metal underneath is protected.
Chromium is named for its multi-colored compounds, and it is derived from the Greek word “chroma”, meaning “color”.
The green color of emerald, serpentine and chrome, mica, and the red color of ruby are all due to the small amounts of chromium present.
Is Chromium a Metal?
Seeing as Chromium does not oxidize, it is considered useful as a metal that protects the outermost layer from corrosion, unlike metals such as copper, magnesium, and aluminum that oxidize.
Chromium takes a high polish and is used to improve strength and resistance against corrosion in alloys.
These alloys (a mixture of metallic solids, made up of two or more elements), are used in extreme environments such as the marine industry, where corrosion is a problem for normal metals.
As you will see, the magnetic properties of chromium are the reason that it can produce protective surfaces evident in its various uses.
Chromium is a vital component of hardened steel.
Most commonly, we see it in stainless steel for use in applications that require a high level of corrosion resistance.
Any metal surface that is exposed to oxidation which will reduce or impair its useful life is plated, producing a hard, shiny, surface.
Chromium is also utilized as a catalyst.
By adding it to glass, it produces an emerald green color.
Various chromium compounds can be found in health supplements, pigments in the paint industry, mordants, as well as in oxidizing agents.
What Does Magnetic Mean?
The term magnetic relates to a substance’s ability to either produce or maintain a magnetic charge.
For something to become magnetized, there must be another substance that has a strong magnetic pull and it must be present in the magnetic field of an existing magnet.
A magnet in its natural state is known as a lodestone and is permanently magnetized as well as being the most magnetic mineral.
In 1845, lodestones were commonly referred to as magnetite and mainly consisted of a black mineral of iron and oxygen or iron hydroxide.
Magnetite develops naturally through volcanic activity and has its own magnetic properties, unlike Chromium, which takes on a magnetic charge when in close proximity to a magnetic field.
This charge reduces as the temperature increases.
Why is Chromium Magnetic?
The motion of electric charges is the cause of magnetism.
Seeing as electrons spin in the same direction as in iron, cobalt, and nickel, this causes atoms to be strongly magnetic, but they are not yet considered magnets.
Chromium is the only elemental solid which shows antiferromagnetic ordering at room temperature or below.
It is this antiferromagnetic property that gives chromium its bright sheen and ability to reflect infrared and visible light so well.
Physical Characteristics of Chromium
Chromium is relatively active for a metal and will react with many other metals as well as with oxygen, but it will not react with water.
Chromium has a range of uses that are related to its magnetic properties. At room temperature and below, it is magnetic.
However, when it is heated above 38 degrees Celsius, its magnetic ordering becomes paramagnetic.
This reduces its magnetism as it is weakly attracted by the poles of a magnet and does not retain permanent magnetism.
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