A ferrofluid (from the Latin ferrum, meaning iron) is a liquid which becomes strongly polarised in the presence of a magnetic field.
Ferrofluids are composed of nanoscale ferromagnetic particles suspended in a carrier fluid, usually an organic solvent or water. The ferromagnetic nano-particles are coated with a surfactant to prevent their agglomeration (due to van der Waals and magnetic forces). Although the name may suggest otherwise, ferrofluids do not display ferromagnetism, since they do not retain magnetisation in the absence of an externally applied field. In fact, ferrofluids display paramagnetism, and are often referred as being “superparamagnetic” due to their large magnetic susceptibility. True ferromagnetic fluids are difficult to create at present.