How do heat and cold affect magnetism?

3 Answers

belarafon's profile pic

belarafon | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Magnetism is affected by temperature in different ways. Magnetism relies on the alignment of atoms, with each atom having its magnetic spin in the same direction. This is more pronounced in a solid material, since the atoms are locked in a rigid structure and their spin is controlled by that structure. Heating the material will allow the atoms more thermal energy, increasing their movement; the more they move, the less they are lined up and so the magnetic forces become weaker. At a specific point, called the Curie Temperature, the material's atoms will become so dissociated that the magnetic forces vanish entirely; since the atoms can no longer align themselves, they can't put out enough of a magnetic force to be noticeable. Conversely, low temperatures (cold) can increase the power of a magnet, since low temperature means that there is less energy in the atoms, and they are more solidly locked into their position in the material.

nessus's profile pic

nessus | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Below the Curie point some materials recover. For certain lanthanides ~ 300centigrade. They get magnetic again.

sararyder's profile pic

sararyder | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Temperature can affect a magnet by causing something called Curie point or temperature.  At a high temperature (varies by substance) a material can no longer hold magnetic properties because you have added too much Kinetic energy by heating and the substance will no longer hold a magnetic crystalline structure.