Can Neodymium Magnets Damage Electronics?
The impacts of neodymium magnets on household electronics are minimal and growing even smaller each year. The manufacturing process of electronics is constantly evolving, and as such, electronics are working with advanced electromagnetic systems that reduce the chances of neodymium magnets damaging electronics. While interactions between neodymium magnets and electronics should be prevented, knowing that the average magnetic material will not fully ruin household electronics is relieving.
Can neodymium magnets affect devices like handsets and computers? This article reviews the actions of neodymium magnets on electronics. We likewise discuss the minor but possibly significant effects of neodymium magnets on different kinds of electronics.
What are Electronics?
Any conversation about electronics and electricity involves Thomas Edison, who tweaked and bent electric currents in numerous groundbreaking ways. The earliest electronic invention occurred at the beginning of the twentieth century when the vacuum tube was pioneered. This singular device would make the invention of other devices such as television sets, radios, telephones, and microwaves feasible.
The vacuum triode era paved the way for the transistor phase, where manufacturers could develop devices that used silicon and germanium materials in conjunction with these transistors. The calculator was one of the earliest electronic devices that wouldn’t rely on a vacuum tube for operation.
Then came the integrated circuits, which promoted the design of chips made of hundreds and even thousands of components connected by small-scale and medium-scale integrated circuits. Next, microprocessors were created to perform analog electrical operations. These analog integrated circuits were used to make ADC converters and analog filters.
Modern-day electronics manufacturing uses several materials with contrasting chemical and electrical properties. Carbon and copper are two of the most common elements in electronics. Due to carbon’s excessive usage, manufacturers are considering alternative methods for producing electronic devices to reduce the carbon footprint generated by their companies.
Relationship Between Electronics and Magnets
Magnets and electricity have, over decades, formed a strong relationship that is easily captured as electromagnetism. Computers, having magnets, store information on their hard drives. Magnets of various strengths are used to make television sets, microwaves, generations, MRIs, and other medical appliances.
Electromagnetism is a basic technological principle for the functioning of many household items. Electromagnetism uses the force of electric currents to induce an electromagnetic force when in contact with a magnetic field. This force is responsible for heating certain kitchen devices (ovens and microwaves, for instance), the effectiveness of communication devices, and working industrial systems such as generators and motors.
Many devices now integrated into our daily human routine are made from magnets. Yet, due to their irresistible effects, we are often warned to avoid bringing strong magnets near our electronic devices so as not to risk damaging their devices. Why is this so? Are magnets dangerous when close to electrical and electronic devices? If so, why are magnets used in manufacturing the same set of devices?
How Magnets Affect Electronics
Strong magnets, in proximity to electronics, can alter the electrical circuit integrated into these electronics, thus causing internal issues. When we speak of magnets that can damage electronics, we do not mean that magnets can break the external body of electronic devices. Though certainly, some grades of Neodymium magnets, if carelessly handled, can cause bone fractures if dropped against a body part at rest. Hardly would you find an electronic device whose body has been wrecked by the action of a magnet.
Electronic devices function by generating and storing electric charges as electrons. These electrons influence the opening and closing of small circuits within an electronic device, such that they regulate the presence or absence of currents in specific circuits. Processors can move these charges to complete evaluations and compare results, as seen in medical devices like scanners.
In hard drives, the movement of charges can determine the spin of the tiny magnetic disk in the drive, which controls the movement of data stored on the hard drive. When you select a file to be copied on your hard drive or moved from the hard drive to your computer, you are combining the effects of electricity and magnetism.
Suppose you’ve been asked to keep your key card away from your mobile device. In that case, it’s because the magnet disk in your device can induce magnetic fields that alter the electronic arrangement within your key card, stripping away your data. It’s that simple. Suppose the magnetic field present within a hard drive is altered by the action of an external magnetic field. The data stored on the hard drive can be partially or wiped.
Magnets emit positive and negative charges (based on their North and South poles). These charges are reinforced when electrons are coupled with the magnets, creating strong electromagnetic forces that can affect the electrons in the circuit of an electronic device. Tampered electronic arrangements within the device would ultimately impair the device’s ability to work.
Strong Magnets and Electronics
Different grades of magnets will have varying effects on electronics. While magnets of moderate strength, such as ferrite magnets, must be at considerably close distances to electronics to have significant effects. For instance, a pacemaker remains neutral to the presence of a ferrite magnet until the magnet is almost directly placed on the pacemaker’s location. Even at that, there will be little damage performed.
Neodymium magnets, however, are perhaps the strongest rare earth magnets known. If brought close to a CRT monitor, a neodymium magnet could distort its color and cause it to display the wrong images. Besides, a neodymium magnet would alter the circuit connections in the monitor, altering its output. This isn’t a relevant concern, as most display monitors and TVs have displaced CRTs with LEDs and LCDs.el
Strong magnets do not affect computer chips or other parts of a computer. As we hinted, they can erase the memory stored on an external hard disk. In necessary situations, a hard drive can be specifically cleaned with a magnet, in a process known as degaussing. Though this isn’t a frequent occurrence, as people only store data on hard drives to preserve them over an extended period, an external magnetic field induced by a neodymium magnet can cause the drive to lose a significant part of its data. Arguably, this isn’t the most efficient erasing a drive’s data.
Will magnets affect home appliances such as refrigerators, microwaves, or washing machines? Arguably not. Though most washing machines are magnetic, the magnets tossed into a washing machine are at greater risk of being damaged than the washing machine itself. At temperatures above their operating limit, magnets become demagnetized and can damage the fabric containing them.
Neodymium Magnets and Phones
Strong neodymium magnets won’t affect a phone’s screen; smartphone screens are either LCD or LED-based. For LCD screens, liquid crystals regulate the effects of pixel lights to brighten or darken a screen; LED-based screens generate light when an electric current is applied to the device; both kinds of screens are unaffected by neodymium magnets since they are not electromagnetic.
Neodymium magnets will cause a phone’s battery to drain faster but cannot flatten out the battery’s power. Even at that, only large-sized neodymium magnets will cause a battery to function at a higher capacity than its inherent design.
Users often worry about how a magnet can slow down or speed up a phone’s compass. As with compasses in other electronic devices, these compasses are affected by neodymium magnets the size of a horseshoe. Since horseshoe neodymium magnets aren’t common in every household, a phone’s inbuilt magnet is safe.
How about Global Positioning Systems (GPS)? A phone’s GPS works independently of the phone’s electric, in-built compass. GPS triangulates a phone’s real-time position by measuring how long it takes to send and receive signals to the available network of satellites within the phone’s proximity. This means that magnetic fields cannot interrupt the communication between a phone’s GPS and the surrounding satellites.
Neodymium magnets are relatively safe for use in households. Many of our everyday gadgets and appliances contain neodymium magnets which enhance their effectiveness. However, minor household neodymium magnets can cause no damage to the performance of these electronics or distort their data storage abilities.
When planning your magnet purchase, invest in quality neodymium magnets, and shop with suppliers or manufacturers committed to shipping out the best quality available—looking to purchase your next box set? Contact us for expert guidance. We are excited to help you make the right choices.