From: Doug McKean (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu Jun 15 2000 - 10:45:21 PDT
> Someone once explained dielectric loss to me as absorption of the energy
> in the E/M field by quantum resonances in the molecules that make up the
> dielectric material. In my mind, I thought this sounded analogous to the
> photoelectric effect, where you shine light of a particular frequency on
> an atom and it gets absorbed if the frequency corresponds to one of its
> quantum states. Is this truly the physical origin of dielectric loss?
> If so, that would explain why it's strictly a material property and not
In it's simplest sense, dielectric loss is the energy
expended aligning the electric moment of atoms and
molecules with an electric field. An electric moment
alignment hysteresis if you will. This has to do with
the electron distribution about the nucleus. It's not
uniform so there's some dipole effect with virtually
all atoms and molecules. Some just more that others.
The ability of a capacitor to regain some of it's initial
charge after being momentarily discharged, i.e. for the
material to try to realign itself, is termed dielectric
If there's an analogy to be used, probably more correct
to use the energy expended aligning the magnetic moment
of atoms and molecules with a magnetic field. This has
to do with the summation of magnetic fields produced by
electron orbits about the nucleus.
Just my two cents, but the photoelectric effect wouldn't
be a good analogy.
- Doug McKean
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