Fabian Oefner’s ferrofluidic project Millefiori

Fabian Oefner (born 1984, Switzerland) is a curious investigator, photographer and artist, whose work moves between the fields of art and science. His images capture in unique and imaginative ways natural phenomena that appear in our daily lives, such as sound waves, centripetal forces, iridescence, or the unique properties of magnetic ferroliquids.

Oefner writes about Millefiori:

The shapes, you see in these image are only about the size of a thumbnail. They are created with the aid of a very peculiar material: ferrofluid.

This liquid has a very unique property. It is magnetic, caused by the millions nano iron particles in it. When put under a magnetic field, the particles in the solution start to rearrange due to the attraction and repulsion of iron. If now water colors are added to the ferrofluid, the pop-art looking structures start to appear, forming into black channels and tiny ponds filled with rainbow colored surfaces. The reason why the black ferrofluid and the water colors don’t mix is that ferrofluid is, just like oil, hydrophobic. It therefore doesn’t mix with the water colors. At the same time it is held in position by the magnet underneath it. So it tries to find a way around the water colors and therefore forms these black channels.

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