23 January 2017

Can you unstick magnets remotely?

Scientists explore using one magnet to disrupt the field of another.

First some background

Other than walking up to a magnet attached to a steel panel and removing it by hand, there are few options to detach it. Yet in some situations, it would be ideal to remove a magnet remotely, rather than manually. Scientists at the MagLab are beginning to develop such a technology.

What did scientists discover?

Scientists are researching how to use one magnet to remotely detach another from a steel panel, using computer modeling and experimental testing and exploring magnet technologies such as ferrofluidics.

Why is this important?

Although there have been rapid advancements in creating stronger permanent magnets, very little research has been done on detaching such magnets in situations when it’s not feasible to remove them by physical means, whether by hand or a robotic arm. A method to remotely detach magnets could suggest new and innovative uses for strong permanent magnets.

Who did the research?

Theo Siegrist1,2, Petru Andrei2, Jeffrey Whalen1, Eric Lochner3, Tim Murphy1

1National High Magnetic Field Lab; 2FSU-FAMU College of Engineering; 3FSU Department of Physics

Why did this research need the MagLab?

The MagLab provides the expertise and infrastructure for this research, augmented by local faculty with decades of experience in applied magnetism and computational modeling. This project is a unique opportunity to translate basic science research about magnetism to applications that address urgent needs imposed by real-world considerations.

Details for scientists


This research was funded by the following grants: G.S. Boebinger (NSF DMR-1157490); Siegrist, Petru, Whalen (National Center for Manufacturing Sciences)

For more information, contact Jeffrey Whalen.


  • Research Area: Engineering Materials, Magnet Technology, Magnetism and Magnetic Materials
  • Research Initiatives: Materials
  • Facility / Program: MS&T
  • Year: 2017
Last modified on 24 January 2017