Chapter 7

Magnetism in Matter

Before the discovery of the magnetic effects of electric current and charges, the understanding of magnetism pertained to permanent magnets. Even today, some of the magnetic properties of matter remain little understood and other properties remain to be explored. This does not prevent magnetism from underlying many applications, ranging from the magnetic compass to measurement instruments, electric generators and motors, magnetic tapes for sound and video recording and for computer data storage, magnetic levitation, etc. The purpose of this chapter is to introduce some basic elements of magnetism in matter.

7.1. Types of magnetism

Some materials, said to be ferromagnetic, become magnetized if they are exposed to a magnetic field and they remain permanently magnetized if the magnetic field is removed. A magnetized body is equivalent to a magnetic moment Image in a characteristic direction SN. An external magnetic field acts on this body and orients it in such a way that the field B enters the body at S and leaves it at N (Figure 7.1a). Particularly, in the Earth’s magnetic field, N points approximately toward the geographic North and S toward the South (Figure 7.1b). However, contrary to the electric charges, which constitute an electric dipole, the “magnetic poles” cannot be separated and the concept of magnetic pole is simply an analogy with electric charges. ...

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