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Types Of Magnetism

Five basic types of magnetism have been observed and classified on the basis of the magnetic behavior of materials in response to magnetic fields at different temperatures. These types of magnetism are: ferromagnetism, ferrimagnetism, antiferromagnetism, paramagnetism, and diamagnetism.

Ferromagnetism and ferrimagnetism occur when the magnetic moments in a magnetic material line up spontaneously at a temperature below the so-called Curie temperature, to produce net magnetization. The magnetic moments are aligned at random at temperatures above the Curie point, but become ordered, typically in a vertical or, in special cases, in a spiral (helical) array, below this temperature. In a ferromagnet, magnetic moments of equal magnitude arrange themselves in parallel to each other. In a ferrimagnet, on the other hand, the moments are unequal in magnitude and order in an antiparallel arrangement. When the moments are equal in magnitude and ordering occurs at a temperature called the Neel temperature in an antiparallel array to give no net magnetization, the phenomenon is referred to as antiferromagnetism. These transitions from disorder to order represent classic examples of phase transitions. Another example of a phase transition is the freezing of the disordered molecules of water at a critical temperature of 32°F (0°C) to form the ordered structure of ice. The magnetic moments—referred to as spins—are localized on the tiny electronic magnets within the atoms of the solid. Mathematically, the electronic spins are equal to the angular momentum (the rotational velocity times the moment of inertia) of the rotating electrons. The spins in a ferromagnetic or a ferrimagnetic single crystal undergo spontaneous alignment to form a macroscopic (large scale) magnetized object. Most magnetic solids, however, are not single crystals, but consist of single crystal domains separated by domain walls. The spins align within a domain below the Curie temperature, independently of any external magnetic field, but the domains have to be aligned in a magnetic field in order to produce a macroscopic magnetized object. This process is effected by the rotation of the direction of the spins in the domain wall under the influence of the magnetic field, resulting in a displacement of the wall and the eventual creation of a single large domain with the same spin orientation.

Paramagnetism is a weak form of magnetism observed in substances which display a positive response to an applied magnetic field. This response is described by its magnetic susceptibility per unit volume, which is a dimensionless quantity defined by the ratio of the magnetic moment to the magnetic field intensity. Paramagnetism is observed, for example, in atoms and molecules with an odd number of electrons, since here the net magnetic moment cannot be zero. Diamagnetism is associated with materials that have a negative magnetic susceptibility. It occurs in nonmagnetic substances like graphite, copper, silver and gold, and in the superconducting state of certain elemental and compound metals. The negative magnetic susceptibility in these materials is the result of a current induced in the electron orbits of the atoms by the applied magnetic field. The electron current then induces a magnetic moment of opposite sign to that of the applied field. The net result of these interactions is that the material is shielded from penetration by the applied magnetic field.

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Macrofauna to MathematicsMagnetism - History Of Magnetism, Origin Of Magnetism, Types Of Magnetism, Measurement Of Magnetic Field, Applications Of Magnetism