Magnetic Moment - Magnetic Moment and Angular Momentum

Magnetic Moment and Angular Momentum

The magnetic moment has a close connection with angular momentum called the gyromagnetic effect. This effect is expressed on a macroscopic scale in the Einstein-de Haas effect, or "rotation by magnetization," and its inverse, the Barnett effect, or "magnetization by rotation." In particular, when a magnetic moment is subject to a torque in a magnetic field that tends to align it with the applied magnetic field, the moment precesses (rotates about the axis of the applied field). This is a consequence of the angular momentum associated with the moment.

Viewing a magnetic dipole as a rotating charged sphere brings out the close connection between magnetic moment and angular momentum. Both the magnetic moment and the angular momentum increase with the rate of rotation of the sphere. The ratio of the two is called the gyromagnetic ratio, usually denoted by the symbol γ.

For a spinning charged solid with a uniform charge density to mass density ratio, the gyromagnetic ratio is equal to half the charge-to-mass ratio. This implies that a more massive assembly of charges spinning with the same angular momentum will have a proportionately weaker magnetic moment, compared to its lighter counterpart. Even though atomic particles cannot be accurately described as spinning charge distributions of uniform charge-to-mass ratio, this general trend can be observed in the atomic world, where the intrinsic angular momentum (spin) of each type of particle is a constant: a small half-integer times the reduced Planck constant ħ. This is the basis for defining the magnetic moment units of Bohr magneton (assuming charge-to-mass ratio of the electron) and nuclear magneton (assuming charge-to-mass ratio of the proton).

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