This is rather simple: I want a biological electromagnet capable of producing a weak magnetic pulse when electrified.

I recognize what an electromagnet is: a coil, spiral, or helix of conductive material through which an electric current flows, thereby inducing a magnetic field. Yes, I know that any electromagnet worth its salt uses a magnetic core. No, I am not talking about that core.

Moreover, I already have a power source lined up for this electromagnet: an electrocyte similar to that of an electric eel; essentially, it's a biological voltaic pile that works by suddenly pumping sodium and potassium ions out of itself in order to produce an electric pulse, which then is used to briefly power the electromagnet.

On top of that, I know what the structure of this electromagnet will be: a horn-like structure made out of conductive material which grows into a loop; the organism this magnet is attached to is mature when its horn stops growing in loops and grows back around to make contact with itself to complete the "circuit", as it were.

However, I don't know what conductive material to use for this. I need a material that:

  • can be metabolized by Earth-based biology and biochemical pathways, or be made out of things that can be
  • can carry an electrical charge
  • isn't exceptionally toxic, radioactive, reactive, or flammable
  • is stable between 0 and 130 degrees Farenheit - i.e. doesn't melt/form weird crystals/etc. inside an organism

Basically, it needs to be part of an organism with Earth-style biology without killing said organism or loosing function.

  • $\begingroup$ Without the ferromagnetic core it will be a very poor electromagnet. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jan 21, 2022 at 2:31
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP. I'm not asking about the core. I'm asking about the wire. $\endgroup$
    Jan 21, 2022 at 4:02
  • $\begingroup$ Are you after electromagnetism in particular or just magnetism that can be controlled, turned on and off? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biomagnetism $\endgroup$ Jan 21, 2022 at 4:30
  • $\begingroup$ @JustinThymetheSecond It has to be electromagnetism; the creature in question eventually is given surgical modifications (aka an external battery) that drastically increase the strength of the magnetic field. $\endgroup$
    Jan 21, 2022 at 4:33
  • $\begingroup$ Follow my link, it might be useful. $\endgroup$ Jan 21, 2022 at 4:34

1 Answer 1



Most terrestrial creatures already have the one material they need to effectively move electrons, which is what you need to create a magnetic field: Saline, better known as salt water. Humans most often interact with saline in the forms of sweat, saliva, and tears, but it can also be found in your blood stream. Frankly, you can find saline almost anywhere in the body.

So, you don't really need a solid or semi-solid substance — you need a porous substance. Ideally, a horn that's straight as an arrow but filled with micro channels that spiral around inside the horn. And these channels are filled with saline.

Add your power source and boom, bio-EMP.

But you might need just a bit more than that.

Any magnetic field worth its salt (ha-ha) requires enough energy to cause anywhere from discomfort to actual damage to the body. So, you might want to consider adding the idea of a bio-insulator between the source of the saline (e.g., a sweat gland that's used to keep the micro channels filled) and the electrified saline. That might be a bit of a challenge, because anything that works like a valve (e.g., a heart valve) is susceptible to electricity. It's because everything in the body works on electricity (the nervous system).

But if you had something that worked like a passive valve, maybe made of keratin (like your hair and fingernails) such that saline squirts through after enough pressure has been built up by the sweat gland... Yeah, that suspends my disbelief.


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