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The Ferrofluid Nanotechnology Chemistry Demonstration Kit may seem like a space-age concept, but it may be the next "big thing." Prepare a ferrofluid and demonstrate the concept invented by NASA In the 1960's to control liquids in space.

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A magnetic liquid, also known as a ferrofluid, may seem like a space-age concept. That's because it is! Now you can prepare a ferrofluid and demonstrate the concept that was invented by NASA in the 1960s to control liquids in space. The procedure is remarkably simple. Magnetite (Fe3O4) is prepared by combining Fe2+ and Fe3+ ions with a weak base in dilute aqueous solution. The resulting magnetite particles are extremely small nanoparticles. Shrinking the size of solid-phase particles to the nanometer scale—one-billionth of a meter—radically changes their physical and chemical properties. Rather than settle out as a solid, the magnetite particles remain suspended in the aqueous medium, giving rise to a magnetic liquid! Place a magnet under the liquid in a Petri dish or vial, and the liquid will form dramatic spikes. Nanotechnology may well be the next “big thing” in science—pun intended. Update your curriculum today! Enough materials are included to perform the demonstration seven times. Concepts: Ferrimagnetic substances and magnetic properties, colloids vs. solutions, nanotechnology. Time Required: 10 minutes Materials Provided: Iron(II) chloride and iron(III) chloride, ammonia solution, tetramethylammonium hydroxide solution, hydrochloric acid solution, neodymium magnet, Pasteur pipets, and weighing dishes. Note: Perform this demonstration in a fume hood or well-ventilated lab.

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Developing and using models
Planning and carrying out investigations

Disciplinary Core Ideas

MS-PS2.B: Types of Interactions
HS-PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter
HS-PS2.B: Types of Interactions

Crosscutting Concepts


Performance Expectations

HS-PS1-1. Use the periodic table as a model to predict the relative properties of elements based on the patterns of electrons in the outermost energy level of atoms.
HS-PS1-3. Plan and conduct an investigation to gather evidence to compare the structure of substances at the bulk scale to infer the strength of electrical forces between particles.
MS-PS2-5. Conduct an investigation and evaluate the experimental design to provide evidence that fields exist between objects exerting forces on each other even though the objects are not in contact