Polarization of dielectrics

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Polarization of dielectrics

A vector quantity representing the electric dipole moment per unit volume of a dielectric material. See Dielectric materials

Dielectric polarization arises from the electrical response of individual molecules of a medium and may be classified as electronic, atomic, orientation, and space-charge or interfacial polarization, according to the mechanism involved.

Electronic polarization represents the distortion of the electron distribution or motion about the nuclei in an electric field.

Atomic polarization arises from the change in dipole moment accompanying the stretching of chemical bonds between unlike atoms in molecules. See Molecular structure and spectra

Orientation polarization is caused by the partial alignment of polar molecules, that is, molecules possessing permanent dipole moments, in an electric field. This mechanism leads to a temperature-dependent component of polarization at lower frequencies.

Space-charge or interfacial polarization occurs when charge carriers are present which can migrate an appreciable distance through a dielectric but which become trapped or cannot discharge at an electrode. This process always results in a distortion of the macroscopic field and is important only at low frequencies. See Electric field, Electric susceptibility

McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Physics. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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