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The creation of large magnetic fields is a necessary component in many technologies, ranging from magnetic resonance imaging, electric motors and generators, and magnetic hard disk drives in information storage. This is typically done by inserting a ferromagnetic pole piece with a large magnetisation density MS in a solenoid. In addition to large MS, it is usually required or desired that the ferromagnet is magnetically soft and has a Curie temperature well above the operating temperature of the device. A variety of ferromagnetic materials are currently in use, ranging from FeCo alloys in, for example, hard disk drives, to rare earth metals operating at cryogenic temperatures in superconducting solenoids. These latter can exceed the limit on MS for transition metal alloys given by the Slater-Pauling curve. This article reviews different materials and concepts in use or proposed for technological applications that require a large MS, with an emphasis on nanoscale material systems, such as thin and ultra-thin films. Attention is also paid to other requirements or properties, such as the Curie temperature and magnetic softness. In a final summary, we evaluate the actual applicability of the discussed materials for use as pole tips in electromagnets, in particular, in nanoscale magnetic hard disk drive read-write heads; the technological advancement of the latter has been a very strong driving force in the development of the field of nanomagnetism.