Is Nickel a Magnetic Material?

While reading an article regarding nickel’s availability in the Earth’s inner core, I was struck by a thought about nickel’s magnetic properties. So I decided to conduct a quick Google search. I jotted down the results after going over various information. In this post, I will clarify those facts to you and assist you in delving deeper into “Nickel’s World.” So, let’s learn more about nickel’s magnetic properties in depth!

Is nickel magnetic, then? Because of the parallel alignment of its two unpaired electrons or’spins’ in the presence of an external magnetic field, nickel (Ni) is ferromagnetic. Nickel retains its magnetic property even in the absence of a magnetic field, allowing it to remain magnetised indefinitely.

Nickel is a beautiful silvery-white metal with a gold hue. It has the atomic number 28 and the atomic weight 58.69 u, making it a transition metal.

It is the fifth most plentiful element on the planet. Nickel is one of the four ferromagnets utilised in the production of Alnico magnets.

Nickel has been used as a coin for a long time. The five-cent piece in the United States is made up of 25% nickel and 75% copper.

Nickel has five stable isotopes in nature.

Nickel-58 (68.27 percent), Nickel-60 (26.10 percent), Nickel-61 (1.13 percent), Nickel-62 (3.59 percent), and Nickel-64 (3.59 percent) are the four grades (0.94 percent ).

Let’s take a closer look at the reasons for nickel’s ferromagnetism.

Nickel is ferromagnetic for a reason.

Nickel possesses two unpaired electrons in the d orbital, according to the electrical configuration [Ar] 3d8 4s2.

In the presence of an external magnetic field, these two unpaired electrons align parallelly and remain aligned even after the magnetic field is removed. This is the primary explanation for Ni’s ferromagnetic properties.

The figure above depicts the filling of electrons in different orbitals for nickel, and two unpaired electrons in the d orbital can easily be seen.

Unpaired electrons are known to be involved in paramagnetism, ferromagnetism, and diamagnetism. Paramagnetism and ferromagnetism are both indicated by the presence of unpaired electrons.

The presence of paired electrons, on the other hand, suggests diamagnetism.

Permanent magnets are ones that can remain magnetised even when the external magnetic field is removed. This is where nickel comes in.

Magnetic domains are tiny pockets in which magnetic dipoles are contained. These domains make up every magnetic substance.

The strong magnetic field of Ni is due to the magnetic dipoles inside these domains aligning parallelly in a single direction.

Even after the external magnetic field is removed, the alignment persists. Hysteresis is the phenomenon of “remembering the magnetic history.”

The attached graphic below, which depicts domains in the instance of iron, helps to visualise this notion. Nickel is similar to iron in terms of behaviour.

In the absence of an external magnetic field, the domains of ferromagnetic materials have a high degree of magnetization, but they are randomly directed.

As a result, even the tiniest external magnetic field can align the domains, resulting in significant magnetization.

Nickel’s Magnetic Susceptibility

The degree to which a material can be magnetised under an external magnetic field is known as magnetic susceptibility. The degree to which a material is attracted to a magnet, in basic terms.

Nickel has a relatively high magnetic susceptibility due to the parallel alignment of magnetic dipoles.

After Curie’s temperature, however, things change. Thermal agitation over the curie temperature disrupts the dipoles’ parallel alignment, causing them to reorient randomly.

As a result, at temperatures over Curie, nickel loses its ferromagnetic property and becomes paramagnetic, similar to iron. Curie’s temperature for a nickel is 355°C (671°F).

For paramagnets and ferromagnets, the graph depicts the change in magnetic susceptibility. The graph clearly shows the change in ferromagnetic materials after the curie point.

Is nickel magnetically stronger than iron?

Nickel can withstand extremely high pressures while maintaining its fcc structure. Its magnetic moments are less than those of iron, but they are more powerful and healthy.

When we talk about magnetic moments, which tell us about a material’s magnetic strength, we can see that nickel has a high value, but when compared to iron, it has a lower value.

Because iron has four unpaired electrons but nickel only has two, The magnetic moment formula is attached below.

Nickel comes in a variety of oxidation states, including Ni, Ni+, Ni3+, and Ni2+, with Ni2+ being the most frequent.

Exotic oxidation states such as Ni1-, Ni2-, and Ni4+ are also generated and thoroughly researched.

The majority of nickel comes from two types of ore deposits. Laterite and magmatic sulphide deposits are the first and second, respectively.

Apart from nickel, cobalt and gadolinium are two more ferromagnetic metals that can be found at ambient temperature.

Cobalt has a magnetic moment of 1.6–1.7, while gadolinium has a magnetic moment of 7.29.

At room temperature, the magnetic moments of Ni(II) complexes are 3.30, 3.35, and 2.76 BM.

Unpaired electrons will be present in a nickel, whether it is high spin complex or low spin complex. Unlike iron, its magnetic moment is independent of the ligand type.

Nickel, like all metals, is a good conductor because it allows electrons to pass through it. With strong thermal and electrical conductivity, it’s also malleable and ductile.

Nickel is a great alloying metal. It is frequently used in the platinum group element fire assay (PGE).

Nickel has the ability to collect all six PGE components from ores. This metal, as well as its alloys, are frequently utilised as hydrogenation catalysts.

Nickel’s History

Nickel was first used accidently about 3500 BCE, but it was frequently confused for silver ore. The rare Kupfernickel was once the only source of nickel.

Nickel was discovered as a byproduct of cobalt-blue manufacturing in 1824. The first large-scale nickel smelting started in Norway in 1848.

The massive nickel production is utilised in the following percentages:-

Stainless steel is used about 68 percent of the time.

Nonferrous alloys include 10% nonferrous metal.

27 percent for the purpose of engineering

10% towards the construction of buildings

In the case of tubular products, the percentage is 14%.

Metal goods get a 20% discount.

14% for transportation

Electroplating accounts for 9% of the total.

7% in stainless steel alloys

3% of the workforce in foundries

4% in other applications, such as batteries

Nickel was occasionally used as a substitute for decorative silver because of its corrosion resistance.

Nickel is used in coinage, rechargeable batteries, Alnico magnets, stainless steel, electric guitar strings, microphone capsules, and plumbing fixtures, among other things.

The nickel plating on glasses gives them a green tinge.

Indonesia and Australia have the world’s greatest nickel reserves, accounting for over 46% of the total.

Roasting and reduction processes are used to extract nickel from ore, resulting in a purity of 75%. This pure nickel, which is 75 percent pure, can be used in a variety of stainless steel applications.


As a result, we concluded that nickel is a ferromagnetic metal. The existence of two unpaired electrons is the primary cause of its ferromagnetism. In the presence of an external magnetic field, the electrons align parallelly. Nickel retains its magnetic properties even when the external magnetic field is removed, making it a permanent magnet.

So, gentlemen, I tried to explain magnetism in nickel to you in great detail. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments section.

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Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.


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