Diamagnetism

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Diamagnetism is the property of an object which causes it to create a magnetic field in opposition to an externally applied magnetic field, thus causing a repulsive effect. Specifically, an external magnetic field alters the orbital velocity of electrons around their nuclei, thus changing the magnetic dipole moment. According to Lenz's law, this opposes the external field. Diamagnets are materials with a magnetic permeability less than μ0 (a relative permeability less than 1).

Consequently, diamagnetism is a form of magnetism that is only exhibited by a substance in the presence of an externally applied magnetic field. It is generally quite a weak effect in most materials, although superconductors exhibit a strong effect.

Diamagnetic materials cause lines of magnetic flux to curve away from the material, and superconductors can exclude them completely (except for a very thin layer at the surface).

Contents

History

In 1778 S. J. Bergman was the first individual to observe that bismuth and antimony were repelled by magnetic fields. However, the term "diamagnetism" was coined by Michael Faraday in September 1845, when he realized that all materials in nature possessed some form of diamagnetic response to an applied magnetic field.

Diamagnetic materials

Diamagnetism is a very general phenomenon, because all electrons, including the electrons of an atom, will always make a weak contribution to the material's response. However, for materials that show some other form of magnetism (such as ferromagnetism or paramagnetism), the diamagnetism is completely overpowered. Substances that mostly display diamagnetic behaviour are termed diamagnetic materials, or diamagnets. Materials that are said to be diamagnetic are those that are usually considered by non-physicists to be "non-magnetic", and include water, wood, most organic compounds such as petroleum and some plastics, and many metals including copper, particularly the heavy ones with many core electrons, such as mercury, gold and bismuth. The diamagnetism of various molecular fragments are called Pascal's constants.

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