Ferrofluid Clock

Your eyes aren’t playing tricks, nor is this computer-generated imagery, just Zelf Koelman’s latest project: Ferrolic. This alarm clock, which looks like a Rorschach test, relies on magnetic ferrofluids – a liquid that becomes strongly magnetized in the presence of a magnetic field – to display the time. “A few years ago I fell in love with the magical characteristics of a little black ‘blob’ in a bottle. One could manipulate the position and shape of a floating drop of Ferro Fluid with a magnet. The dynamics and shape of this liquid body was much like a living entity. I decided to allow this entity to live its own life and have a function. A year of research and engineering eventually resulted in Ferrolic,” said Koelman. Tired of just seeing the time? You can use a web app to display texts, images and more. Continue reading for two more awesome ferrofluid videos.

Ferrofluid was invented in 1963 by NASA’s Steve Papell as a liquid rocket fuel that could be drawn toward a pump inlet in a weightless environment by applying a magnetic field. Ferrofluids are colloidal liquids made of nanoscale ferromagnetic, or ferrimagnetic, particles suspended in a carrier fluid (usually an organic solvent or water). Each tiny particle is thoroughly coated with a surfactant to inhibit clumping. Large ferromagnetic particles can be ripped out of the homogeneous colloidal mixture, forming a separate clump of magnetic dust when exposed to strong magnetic fields.