Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
The critical or ordering temperature for a ferromagnetic or a ferrimagnetic material. The Curie temperature Tc is the temperature below which there is a spontaneous magnetization M in the absence of an externally applied magnetic field, and above which the material is paramagnetic. In the disordered state above the Curie temperature, thermal energy overrides any interactions between the local magnetic moments of ions. Below the Curie temperature, these interactions are predominant and cause the local moments to order or align so that there is a net spontaneous magnetization.
In the ferromagnetic case, as temperature T increases from absolute zero, the spontaneous magnetization decreases from M0, its value at T = 0. At first this occurs gradually, then with increasing rapidity until the magnetization disappears at the Curie temperature. In ferrimagnetic materials the course of magnetization with temperature may be more complicated, but the spontaneous magnetization disappears at the Curie temperature.
In antiferromagnetic materials the corresponding ordering temperature is termed the Néel temperature. Below the Néel temperature the magnetic sublattices have a spontaneous magnetization, though the net magnetization of the material is zero. Above the Néel temperature the material is paramagnetic. See Antiferromagnetism
The ordering temperatures for magnetic materials vary widely. The ordering temperature for ferroelectrics is also termed the Curie temperature, below which the material shows a spontaneous electric moment. See Ferromagnetism, Pyroelectricity