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Anisotropy (/ˌænaɪˈsɒtrəpi/) is the property of being directionally dependent, as opposed to isotropy, which implies identical properties in all directions. It can be defined as a difference, when measured along different axes, in a material's physical property (absorbance, refractive index, density, etc.) An example of anisotropy is the light coming through a polarizer. An example of an anisotropic material is wood, which is easier to split along its grain than against it.


Fields of interest

Computer graphics

In the field of computer graphics, an anisotropic surface will change in appearance as it is rotated about its geometric normal, as is the case with velvet.

Anisotropic filtering (AF) is a method of enhancing the image quality of textures on surfaces that are far away and steeply angled with respect to the point of view. Older techniques, such as bilinear and trilinear filtering don't take account of the angle a surface is viewed from, which can result in aliasing or blurring of textures. By reducing detail in one direction more than another, these effects can be reduced.


A chemical anisotropic filter, as used to filter particles, is a filter with increasingly smaller interstitial spaces in the direction of filtration so that the proximal regions filter out larger particles and distal regions increasingly remove smaller pales, resulting in greater flow-through and more efficient filtration.

In NMR spectroscopy, the orientation of nuclei with respect to the applied magnetic field determines their chemical shift. In this context, anisotropic systems refer to the electron distribution of molecules with abnormally high electron density, like the pi system of benzene. This abnormal electron density affects the applied magnetic field and causes the observed chemical shift to change.

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