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I have a tool with a very thin and faded coating of what seems to be magnetite black oxide ($\mathrm{Fe_3O_4}$), I’m trying to see if this coating is magnetite, while a chemical test is possible, a magnetic detection test also seems reasonable.

Does anyone know whether a thin layer of magnetite applied to a tool could be detectable through magnetism, or whether there are some specific methods or magnetic detectors I could use for detecting a small amount of magnetite?

— Jack

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for very thin films of material, there is no "macroscopic" test technique to magnetically determine the film composition. This problem is easily solved if you have access to any of a number of vacuum methods of determining chemical compositions of thin films (secondary x-ray, auger spectroscopy, etc.) Most commercial labs containing an electron microscope of modern manufacture will have an attachment (electron microprobe) built into the scope which allows determination of thin film elemental composition, but this will cost money.

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  • $\begingroup$ Ok, thanks, I am also asking if the magnetism of thinner films or coatings of substance, in this scenario most likely magnetite, could be registered by macroscopic magnetic tests or any magnetic tests at all, meaning regardless of the chemical composition of the coating, would a relatively thin layer of magnetic material be detectable through a magnetic test by conventional detectors. $\endgroup$ – Jack Scrugggs Jul 13 at 21:05
  • $\begingroup$ and I'm saying macroscopic magnetic tests won't reveal the composition of a thin film as you have described it here. $\endgroup$ – niels nielsen Jul 13 at 23:05
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, but, through a macroscopic magnetic test, can a thin film be detected to be magnetic at all, as in, apart from the composition, will the magnetism of a thin layer be able to be to registered as being magnetic. $\endgroup$ – Jack Scrugggs Jul 13 at 23:13
  • $\begingroup$ no, it will be overwhelmed by the response of the bulk material under the thin film. $\endgroup$ – niels nielsen Jul 13 at 23:46

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