A startup company in Hunstville, Ala. has revealed an invention that can reconfigure the charges of magnets in never-before-seen patterns, a breakthrough that may lead to new varieties of contact-free attachments and friction-free gears. The company, Correlated Magnetics Research (CMR), creates magnets that, instead of carrying a positive charge on one end and a negative on the other, have complex field patterns that can be used to attract corresponding magnetic fields. When the correlated patterns on two magnets match, they attract and clasp. With a simple turn, the correlation is lost and the two sides can be easily separated. ... Programmable magnets could be used for spaceship hatches, prosthetics ball joints, sports-equipment clasps and maglev-train hardware, according to the company. CMR is asking manufacturing companies to buy licenses to use the new technology in their products, so these magnets could conceivably turn up almost anywhere, especially in niche markets such as NASA hardware and military gear. In truly foolproof assembly directions, unlike those that plagued Fullerton, these smart magnets would ensure that every part links only where it belongs.
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