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Simulating how magnets affect iron-containing liquids – ferrofluids – with potential for biomedical application

26 January 2021

Prickly Predictions

Simulating everything from air traffic to the spread of viruses, computer models strive for simplicity – to make the most accurate predictions with a minimum of mathematics. This keeps them efficient, flexible, and able to adapt as new information comes along. Here, scientists investigate the fluid dynamics of ferrofluids, solutions containing iron particles that usually slosh about but form a halo of rigid spikes when placed in a magnetic field. They make these spiky simulations of ferrofluid twanging between unseen electromagnets “simply” by simulating molecules on the liquid’s surface (without the need to consider the whole volume of fluid). They can now extend their model, perhaps to predicting how magnets of different strengths affect ferrofluids, investigating their use in nanomedicine or as new MRI scans.

Written by John Ankers

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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