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Ferrite or Alpha Iron

Ferrite or Alpha Iron

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Published by: mpkkbtech on May 20, 2010
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Ferrite
or 
alpha iron
(
α-Fe
) is amaterials scienceterm for iron,or asolid solutionwith iron as the main constituent, with a body centred cubiccrystal structure.It is the component which gives steeland cast irontheir  magneticproperties, and is the classic example of aferromagnetic  material.Practically speaking, it can be considered pureiron.It has a strength of 280 N/mm
2[
 
]
anda hardness of approximately 80 Brinell.
Ferrite can be strictly defined as a solid solution of ironin body-centered cubic(BCC) containing a maximum of 0.03% carbon at 723 °C (1,333 °F) and0.006% carbon at room temperature.Mild steel (carbon steel with up to about 0.2 wt% C) consist mostly of ferrite, with increasingamounts of  pearlite(a fine lamellar structure of ferrite and cementite
 
) as the carbon content isincreased. Since bainite(shown as ledeburite on the diagram) and pearlite each have ferrite as acomponent, any iron-carbon alloy will contain some amount of ferrite if it is allowed to reachequilibriumat room temperature.Iron-carbon phase diagram,showing the conditions under which
ferrite
(α) is stable.In pure iron, ferrite is stable below 910 °C (1,670 °F). Above this temperature theface-centeredcubicform of iron,austenite (gamma-iron) is stable. Above 1,390 °C (2,530 °F), up to the melting pointat 1,539 °C (2,802 °F), the body-centred cubic crystal structure is again the morestable form of 
delta-ferrite
(
δ-Fe
).Only a very small amount of carbon can be dissolved in ferrite; the maximumsolubility is about 0.02 wt% at 723 °C (1,333 °F). This is because carbon dissolves in iron interstitially, with thecarbon atoms being about twice the diameter of the interstitial "holes", so that each carbon atomis surrounded by a strong localstrain field.Hence the enthalpyof mixing is positive (unfavourable), but the contribution of entropyto the free energyof solutionstabilises the structure for low carbon content. 723 °C (1,333 °F) also is the minimum temperature at whichiron-carbon austenite (0.8 wt% C) is stable; at this temperature there is a eutectoidreaction  between ferrite, austenite andcementite.
Ferrite
may refer to:
 
Ferrite, iron or iron alloys with a body centred cubic crystal structure.
3
O
4
or BaFe
12
O
19
), ferrimagnetic ceramic materials used inmagnetic applications.
Ferrite beads,components placed on the end of data cables to reduce interference.
2
(Al,Fe)
2
O
5
, a mineral found in cements
Ferrites
are a class of chemical compoundswith the formulaAB
2
O
4
, where A and B representvarious metalcations, usually including iron. Theseceramicmaterials are used in applications ranging from magnetic components to microelectronics.Ferrites are a class of spinels,materials that adopt a crystal motif consisting of cubic close-  packed (FCC) oxides (O
2-
) with A cations occupying one eighth of the tetrahedral holes and Bcations occupying half of the octahedral holes. The magnetic material known as "ZnFe" has thedeceptively simple formula ZnFe
2
O
4
, with Fe
3+
occupying the octahedral sites and half of thetetrahedral sites. The remaining tetrahedral sites in this spinel are occupied by Zn
2+
.
Contents
[hide]
[edit] Properties
Ferrites are usually non-conductive ferrimagnetic ceramic compounds derived fromiron oxides  such ashematite (Fe
2
O
3
) or magnetite (Fe
3
O
4
) as well as oxidesof other metals. Ferrites are, like most other ceramics, hard and brittle. In terms of the magnetic properties, ferrites are oftenclassified as "soft" and "hard" which refers to their low or highcoercivityof their magnetism,respectively.
[edit] Soft ferrites
Ferrites that are used intransformer or electromagnetic corescontainnickel, zinc,or manganese  compounds. They have a lowcoercivityand are called
soft ferrites
. Because of their comparatively low losses at high frequencies, they are extensively used in the cores of switched-mode power supply (SMPS)andRFtransformers andinductors. A common ferrite, chemical symbol MnZn, is composed of the oxides of manganese and zinc.
[edit] Hard ferrites
 
In contrast, permanent ferrite magnets (or "hard ferrites"), which have a highremanenceafter magnetization, are composed of iron and bariumor strontiumoxides. In a magnetically saturated  state they conductmagnetic fluxwell and have a high magnetic permeability. This enables these so-called
ceramic magnets
to store stronger magnetic fieldsthan iron itself. They are the mostcommonly used magnets in radios. The maximum magnetic field
 B
is about 0.35tesla and the magnetic field strength
 H 
is about 30 to 160 kiloampere turns per meter (400 to 2000oersteds
 
).(Hill 2006)
[edit] Production
Ferrites are produced by heating an intimate mixture of powdered precursors pressed into amold. During the heating process, calcination of carbonatesoccurs:MCO
3
→ MO + CO
2
 The oxides of barium and strontium are typically supplied as their carbonates,BaCO
3
or SrCO
3
. The resulting mixture of oxides undergoes sintering. Afterwards the cooled product is milled to  particles smaller than 2 µmin order to produce Weiss domainsin the size of one particle. Next the powder is pressed into a shape, dried, and re-sintered. The shaping may be performed in anexternal magnetic field, in order to achieve a preferred orientation of the particles (anisotropy).Small and geometrically easy shapes may be produced with dry pressing. However, in such a process small particles may agglomerate and lead to poorer magnetic properties compared to thewet pressing process. Direct calcination and sintering without re-milling is possible as well butleads to poor magnetic properties.Electromagnets are pre-sintered as well (pre-reaction), milled and pressed. However, thesintering takes place in a specific atmosphere, for instance one with an oxygenshortage). The chemical composition and especially the structure vary strongly between the precursor and thesintered product.
[edit] Uses
Ferrite cores are used in electronic inductors, transformers, andelectromagnetswhere the high electrical resistance of the ferrite leads to very low eddy currentlosses. They are commonly seen as a lump in a computer cable, called aferrite bead,which helps to prevent high frequency electrical noise (radio frequency interference) from exiting or entering the equipment.Earlycomputer memoriesstored data in the residual magnetic fields of hard ferrite cores, whichwere assembled into arrays of 
.Ferrite powders are used in the coatings of  magnetic recording tapes. One such type of material is iron (III) oxide. Ferrite particles are also used as a component of radar-absorbing materials or coatings used instealth aircraft and in the expensive absorption tiles lining the rooms used for  electromagnetic compatibilitymeasurements.Most common radio magnets, including those used in loudspeakers, are ferrite magnets. Ferritemagnets have largely displacedAlnicomagnets in these applications.It is a common magnetic material for electromagnetic instrument pickups,because of price and relatively high output. However, such pickups lack certain sonic qualities found in other pickups,such as those that use Alnico alloys or more sophisticated magnets.

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