Introduction: Ferrocell, Magnetic Fields Viewer

Difficulty of realization 7/10

Step 1: How to Work

Picture of How to Work

This is the best magnetic field viewer I've ever seen. The field lines are displayed with clarity like no other device or trick you can do.

Apply light and magnetism to either surface. Polarization of the applied magnetic field will determine the "angle of incidence" light experiences as it exits the cell.
Using a permanent magnet is the easiest way to apply a polar field and see how a Ferrocell will change the path of light and appear as a holographic image to the viewer.
One component of the viewed image represents the Null Zone of the field in 3-D. This is the lowest potential or Zero Point. Each point of light will follow a path in relation to its relative position in space around the magnetic field. Another component we see is the Neel or more generally, the Bloch Wall. This appears as a perpendicular band through the center of the magnetic field.

Step 2: How It Make

Picture of How It Make

To build a Ferrocell you need to:

2 glass plates or acrylic perspex sheets
Mineral oil
A LED strip
Some neodymium magnets

Dilute ferrofluid with mineral oil in a ratio 1/4 ferrofluid and 3/4 Mineral Oil

Distribute the preparation onto a glass plate and place the second plate over the first so that the oil spills over the entire surface. Eliminate any air bubbles by pressing on the glass to get the bubbles off the edge. The preparation with the ferrofluid is so dirty takes the appropriate precautions to avoid spoiling the things around you

Seal the edges of the plate. I used the simple transparent tape.

Put the plate over a strip of LED as seen in the video, approaching a powerful magnet you will see distinctly the lines of its magnetic field.

If you like this experiment visit and subscribe to my youtube channel "Magnetic Games"

This amazing invention was made by Timm Vanderelli


MladenS6 (author)2017-11-08

Could inkjet be used as ferofluid?

MladenS6 (author)MladenS62017-11-08

I also have some quantity of Balistol oil (used for gun cleaning) could it be used instead of mineral oil?

mirzah1 (author)2017-08-04

would like to hear from someone who has actually made this,found it almost impossible to contain the fluid with tape at the sides, nothing but leaks and a mess

flembag (author)2017-07-15

This is one of the coolest things I have ever seen on instructables for how simple it is. Nice Job!!!

Magnetic Games (author)flembag2017-07-25

Thank you very much :-)



thank you very much :)

Gregarious (author)2017-06-06

Wow!...this is very 'Attractive'. Your version is 'poles apart' from the tiny viewing sheets you can buy.

I have 'pulled together' all the parts needed and will be putting one together soon (but I have a lot on my 'plate' at the moment).

Then I can test it in the 'field' and hope that my results don't 'go South'.

Thank you ... and enjoy :)

mirzah1 (author)Magnetic Games2017-06-13

Very good invention , but you do not give any details of the LED strip,ie how big, and where available the rest is very simple but I am puzzled by the LED strip bit, can you explain more Please.

Magnetic Games (author)mirzah12017-06-21

What you need are many equidistant light sources, I've seen someone use candles. Use any LED strip, RGB if you want to see the colored field lines.

danbrown655 (author)2017-06-12

Nicely done. I have been using many different types of magnetic field detection devices to help me visualize magnetic field interactions but this by far 'is' what I need. Definitely going to build one. I wonder what could be visualized if a box is built with one side removed, using your technique, if a 3-D visual can be obtained?

thank you :). I'm working on a 3D project with ferrocell using 3 plates. 3D perception is only with large and powerful magnets. Within a month or two I will post the video on youtube

maint1 (author)2017-06-11

Wow, so much more impressive than the iron filings, on a plate of glass, most of us remember from elementary school. Much of what I remember being taught (about magnetic phenomena) was frustrating because the instructors didn't have any ready way to show us what they were teaching. "Magnetic flux is invisible" they'd say, "but trust us, it really does thus & so". As seeing is believing, what a marvelous teaching aid this would be. Besides making magnetic flux highly "visual" it could be used to demonstrate all kinds of claims about magnetism, like how introducing a metallic object into a magnetic field, changes it (like with the induction coil on a metal detector). I could even see if my old science teacher was actually telling us the truth when he said "there's no known material that can block magnetic flux". Thank-you for sharing Mr. Vanderelli's invention with us all :)

Magnetic Games (author)maint12017-06-21

thank you :)
True, the didactic potential of this invention is great

starphire (author)2017-06-09

I love this project! Thank you for sharing.

Until today, I never knew that WD-40 has mineral oil as a main ingredient. But it seems there are other important ingredients in it as well.

Have you tried this with regular mineral oil? Will that work as well?

Also, will any ferrofluid work, or do the ferrous particles have to be a certain size?

Magnetic Games (author)starphire2017-06-21

thank you very much

It works even if you use vegetable oil

Iron particles must be very small, magnetite powder is generally used

CraigH23 (author)2017-06-11

An old fashioned CRT TV displaying a plain white screen shows magnetism well, but then it stays magnetised

PeterMerc (author)CraigH232017-06-15

Just a thought. This is true for colour televisions, which have a metal shadow mask on the inside of the tube face that can become magnetised. Old fashioned, monochrome tubes have no mask and so are not permanently affected. Anyone out there still got a black-and-white telly?

parkshaffer (author)CraigH232017-06-12

To remove/reset the CRT magnetization, suspend a disk magnet from a string, hold it near the CRT screen and twirl the magnet so that alternately N and S are applied to the region. The slowly pull the string & magnet away from the CRT and..."Viola". Great trick.

stevempotter (author)2017-06-11

Where to get the Ferrofluid?

1. Printer ink from laser copiers works well when dissolved in olive oil. Caution:It stains everything it touches.
2. If you can find 'nature's magnet' - FEO3.. Magnetite. It's a black sand in many parts of the world. Extract it from the beach or a river sand using a magnet in a plastic bag inside a topless coke bottle. Push the bottle with the magnet at the bottom of it into in the sand. Magnetite will stick to the bottom of the bottle. Hold the bottle over a bucket, extract your magnet using the plastic bag.. Magnetite is dumped in your bucket. Dry it. Remove any sand. Mix with Olive oil or fine machine oil. The finer your Magnetite, the better the 3D result.

Sorry- Fe2O3.. and the black INKJET ink works best for 2D display like this. Magnetite shows 3D. Put it in a plastic container with a lid, allowing space above it for the field demonstration. Fields are pyramid shaped.

I believe that Fe2O3 is rust, the red/brown deposit that form on iron in the presence of water and oxygen (air!). Magnetite is actually Fe3O4 (a bit less oxygen) which forms when oxygen is in short supply. This is the black sludge which form inside central heating radiators - lots of water, not much air. As you say, this is blackish in colour rather than the more familiar rust red.

Thanks, Caractacus! I have a big bottle of black inkjet ink. I will give it a try.

quader4 (author)2017-06-12

This is beyond cool.

throbscottle (author)2017-06-11

This is the wowiest wow thing I've seen for a while! Thanks for sharing - I might even get around to making one!

KendallA1 (author)2017-06-05

After spending $15 on the regular magnetic viewing film, I found it fairly useless and underwhelming.

This is a brilliant use of Ferro fluid. I would love to build a plate glass coffee table using this process. I'm sure bubbles would be a big problem though. Maybe vacuum could be used to remove the air before introducing the Ferro fluid mixture.

Laser121 (author)KendallA12017-06-11

Years ago, I used to do resin casting, and the bubbles were a problem. The way I solved the problem was to heat up the resin with a hand held torch until the bubbles burst. I don't recommend using a torch in this situation, but a hair dryer would probably do the job and is much safer.

Magnetic Games (author)KendallA12017-06-07

Uses perspex instead of glass, it is more flexible and you should have less bubble formation problems

CarraN (author)2017-06-11


JodyF1 (author)2017-06-11


What should the distance between the plates be? Is there a minimum or maximum? (Also, how even does it have to be?)

Can the ratio of ferrofluid to mineral oil be altered? What would the effect be?

jockelleis (author)2017-06-11

This would be a great visual for technical classes in Magnetic Particle Testing (MT or MPI) because, as you noticed, the gauss lines between two magnets line up and create North and south poles if there is a crack between the magnets. This would really allow students to see what magnetism is and how stronger magnets produce more lines.

LukeB81 (author)2017-06-04

Cool. Where do you get ferrofluid, is this it?

Magnetic Games (author)LukeB812017-06-07

thanks :). Ferrofluid came from Supermagnete ... here the link

JoopGroen (author)2017-06-05

Super super..........

the_3d6 (author)2017-06-04

Thanks! That's probably the best visualization of magnetic fields I can get my hands on! Definitely will make it sooner or later (need to make ferrofluid as well, and I don't know a good method yet)

jimwi (author)2017-06-03

That's so cool

thanks for shearing.

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