In classical electromagnetism, magnetization [1] or magnetic polarization is the vector field that expresses the density of permanent or induced magnetic dipole moments in a magnetic material. The origin of the magnetic moments responsible for magnetization can be either microscopic electric currents resulting from the motion of electrons in atoms, or the spin of the electrons or the nuclei. Net magnetization results from the response of a material to an external magnetic field, together with any unbalanced magnetic dipole moments that may be inherent in the material itself; for example, in ferromagnets. Magnetization is not always homogeneous within a body, but rather varies between different points. Magnetization also describes how a material responds to an applied magnetic field as well as the way the material changes the magnetic field, and can be used to calculate the forces that result from those interactions. It can be compared to electric polarization, which is the measure of the corresponding response of a material to an electric field in electrostatics. Physicists and engineers define magnetization as the quantity of magnetic moment per unit volume. It is represented by a vector M.



Magnetization can be defined according to the following equation:


Here, M represents magnetization; m is the vector that defines the magnetic moment; V represents volume; and N is the number of magnetic moments in the sample. The quantity N/V is usually written as n, the number density of magnetic moments. The M-field is measured in amperes per meter (A/m) in SI units.[2]

Magnetization in Maxwell's equations

The behavior of magnetic fields (B, H), electric fields (E, D), charge density (ρ), and current density (J) is described by Maxwell's equations. The role of the magnetization is described below.

Relations between B, H, and M

The magnetization defines the auxiliary magnetic field H as

\mathbf{B}=\mu_0\mathbf{(H + M)} (SI units)
\mathbf{B} = (\mathbf{H} + 4 \pi \mathbf{M} ) (Gaussian units)

which is convenient for various calculations. The vacuum permeability μ0 is, by definition, ×10−7 V·s/(A·m).

A relation between M and H exists in many materials. In diamagnets and paramagnets, the relation is usually linear:

\mathbf{M} = \chi_m\mathbf{H}

where χm is called the volume magnetic susceptibility.

In ferromagnets there is no one-to-one correspondence between M and H because of hysteresis.

Magnetization current

The magnetization M makes a contribution to the current density J, known as the magnetization current or bound current:

 \mathbf{J_m} = \nabla\times\mathbf{M}

so that the total current density that enters Maxwell's equations is given by

 \mathbf{J} = \mathbf{J_f} + \nabla\times\mathbf{M} + \frac{\partial\mathbf{P}}{\partial t}

where Jf is the electric current density of free charges (also called the free current), the second term is the contribution from the magnetization, and the last term is related to the electric polarization P.


In the absence of free electric currents and time-dependent effects, Maxwell's equations describing the magnetic quantities reduce to

 \mathbf{\nabla\cdot H} &= -\nabla\cdot\mathbf{M}\\
 \mathbf{\nabla\times H} &= 0 

These equations can be easily solved in analogy with electrostatic problems where

 \mathbf{\nabla\cdot E} &= \frac{\rho}\epsilon_0\\
 \mathbf{\nabla\times E} &= 0

In this sense -\nabla\cdot\mathbf{M} plays the role of a "magnetic charge density" analogous to the electric charge density ρ (see also demagnetizing field).

Magnetization is volume density of magnetic moment. That is: if a certain volume has magnetization \mathbf{M} then the volume element dV has a magnetic moment of d\mathbf{m} = \mathbf{M} \, dV

Magnetization dynamics

Main article: Magnetization dynamics

The time-dependent behavior of magnetization becomes important when considering nanoscale and nanosecond timescale magnetization. Rather than simply aligning with an applied field, the individual magnetic moments in a material begin to precess around the applied field and come into alignment through relaxation as energy is transferred into the lattice.


In addition to magnetization, there is also demagnetization. Demagnetization is the process by which the magnetic field of an object is reduced or eliminated.[3] The process of demagnetizing can be accomplished in many ways. One technique used for demagnetization is to heat the object above its Curie Temperature. The reason for this is that when a magnetic material is heated to its Curie Temperature, the material's magnetivity is eliminated. One other way of achieving demagnetization is to use an electric coil. If the object is retracted out of a coil with aternating current running through it, the object's dipoles will become randomized and the object will be demagnetized.[4]

Applications of Demagnetization

One application of demagnetization is to eliminate unwanted magnetic fields. The reason for doing this is that magnetic fields can have unwanted effects on different devices. In particular magnetic fields can affect electronic devices such as cell phones or computers. If such a device is going to be coming into contact with other possibly magnetic objects, the magnetic fields might need to be reduced in order to protect the electronic device. Therefore demagnetization is sometimes used to keep magnetic fields from damaging electrical devices.[5]

See also

The Wiktionary definition of magnetization


  1. ^ American spelling. The British spelling is magnetisation.
  2. ^ "Units for Magnetic Properties". Lake Shore Cryotronics, Inc.. Retrieved 2009-10-24. 
  3. ^ "Magnetic Component Engineering". Magnetic Component Engineering. Retrieved April 18, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Demagnetization". Introduction to Magnetic Particle Inspection. NDT Resource Center. Retrieved April 18, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Demagnetization". Introduction to Magnetic Particle Inspection. NDT Resource Center. Retrieved April 18, 2011. 

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Magnetization — Mag net*i*za tion, n. The act of magnetizing, or the state of being magnetized. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • magnetization — (n.) 1801, noun of action from MAGNETIZE (Cf. magnetize) …   Etymology dictionary

  • magnetization — (Amer.) n. act of magnetizing, impartation of magnetic properties upon an object (also magnetisation)mag·net·i·za·tion || ‚mægnÉ™tÉ™ zeɪʃn /mægnɪtaɪ zeɪʃn …   English contemporary dictionary

  • magnetization — įmagnetėjimas statusas T sritis Standartizacija ir metrologija apibrėžtis Vienetinio tūrio medžiagos atstojamasis magnetinis momentas, išreiškiamas formule: M = (B/μ₀) H; čia M – įmagnetėjimo vektorius, B – magnetinio srauto tankio vektorius, H – …   Penkiakalbis aiškinamasis metrologijos terminų žodynas

  • magnetization — įmagnetėjimas statusas T sritis fizika atitikmenys: angl. intensity of magnetization; magnetization vok. Magnetisierung, f; Magnetisierungsvektor, m rus. вектор намагниченности, m; намагниченность, f pranc. aimantation, f; intensité d’aimantation …   Fizikos terminų žodynas

  • magnetization — įmagnetėjimas statusas T sritis automatika atitikmenys: angl. magnetization vok. Magnetisierung, f rus. намагниченность, f pranc. aimantation, f; intensité d aimantation, f; magnétisation, f …   Automatikos terminų žodynas

  • magnetization — įmagnetėjimas statusas T sritis chemija apibrėžtis Vienetinio tūrio medžiagos atstojamasis magnetinis momentas. atitikmenys: angl. magnetization rus. намагниченность …   Chemijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

  • magnetization — įmagnetinimas statusas T sritis fizika atitikmenys: angl. magnetization vok. Magnetisieren, n; Magnetisierung, f rus. намагничивание, n pranc. aimantation, f; magnétisation, f; polarisation magnétique, f …   Fizikos terminų žodynas

  • magnetization — noun Date: 1801 an instance of magnetizing or the state of being magnetized; also the degree to which a body is magnetized …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • magnetization — /mag ni teuh zay sheuhn/, n. 1. the process of magnetizing or the state of being magnetized. 2. Elect. the magnetic moment per unit volume induced by any external magnetic field: measured in amperes per meter. Symbol: M [1885 90; MAGNETIZE +… …   Universalium

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