Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Do ionic crystals have total electric dipole moment?

  1. Apr 17, 2015 #1
    I have come up with a paradox: Ionic crystals, in which cations and anions form a lattice, seems to have total electric dipole moment!

    For example, consider a one dimensional example:
    ##+ - + - + - ... + - + -##
    In the above picture, a ##+## represents a cation and a ##-## represents an anion.

    So in calculating the total magnetic dipole moment, with the definition ##P=\int x \rho (x) dx##, I pair the ions and each cation anion pair have a dipole moment ##-ql##, where ##q## is charge and ##l## is the distance between the cation and anion. Then the total dipole moment is ##\frac{n}{2}ql##!

    I don't think ionic crystals can have total dipole moment because if so, salt will have electric field around it!

    Can anybody explain this to me?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 17, 2015 #2

    Dotini

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Here's some interesting data possibly related to your question.

    Strong Forces at Work in Simple Table Salt
    Intense electric fields alter electrons arrangement to produce light during NaCl crystallization
    http://www.pnnl.gov/science/highlights/highlight.asp?id=1438
    kathmann_crystal_200w.jpg
    Crystalluminescence – the glow given off when a salt becomes a solid – was a critical “hint” to the team that the conventional wisdom underlying salt formation was incomplete. This led them to ask if intense electric fields actually occur in concentrated aqueous electrolytes and thus could be responsible for driving the electronic processes leading to the emission of blue light. The answer? Yes.
     
  4. Apr 17, 2015 #3
    That's dynamics. What I concern is the static case.
     
  5. Apr 17, 2015 #4
    Big dipole moment doesnt necessarily imply strong static electric field.

    Dipole moment is [itex]p(r)=\int\limits_{V} \rho(r')(r-r')d^3r'[/itex] while for example the solution to the electrostatic potential [itex]\phi(r)=\int\limits_{V} \rho(r')\frac{1}{|r-r'|}d^3r'[/itex]. Or put even more simply, from gauss's law the electric field seems to depend on [itex]\int\limits_{V}\rho(r')d^3r'[/itex] rather than the integral in the expression for p(r). So i guess you understand why although [itex]p(r)[/itex] can be big, [itex]\phi(r)[/itex] can be small.
     
  6. Apr 18, 2015 #5
    I thought of something else, if we try to put some numbers in the formula [itex]\frac{n}{2}ql[/itex], n would be of the order of avogadro 10^24, q is of 10^(-19)Cb and l of order of 10^(-9)m so dipole moment would be of order of 10^(-4)Cb x m which seems pretty small to me. Also with the reasoning of my previous post i believe in points outside the ionic crystal (where we can make the approximation [itex]\frac{1}{|r-r'|}\approx\frac{1}{r}[/itex] ) the potential [itex]\phi(r)[/itex] of the n/2 dipoles will tend to cancel out because [itex]\phi(r)\approx \frac{1}{r}\int\limits_{V}\rho(r')d^3r'=0[/itex] because the total charge of an ionic crystal is zero.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2015
  7. Apr 18, 2015 #6
    So the total dipole moment is not zero? It seems so counter-intuitive to me.
     
  8. Apr 18, 2015 #7
    Well hmm, if we take for example a cubic crystal one side of the cube will look like

    +-+-+-+-+-...+-
    -+-+-+-+-+...-+
    ....
    ....
    +-+-+-+-+...+-
    -+-+-+-+-+...-+
    I believe thats how the ionic cubic crystal is formed, that is, below above and next to an anion, always a cation is positioned.

    So,we can see that the dipole moment of the first 2 lines is cancelled (n/2 *q*l for the first row, n/2*q*(-l) for the second row) and thus the whole dipole moment of the side will be zero. The fault was that we were thinking in 1-D afterall.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2015
  9. Apr 18, 2015 #8

    Dotini

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Spontaneous electric fields in solid films
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spontelectrics
    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0144235X.2013.767109#.VTFVjUt-_8s
    http://astrochemistry.hw.ac.uk/docs/talks/JL_Astrosurf2013.pdf [Broken]

    Related topics
    Apparently it you freeze water into a block of ice under the influence of an electric field, you will have a static crystalline structure with an electric dipole.
    http://io9.com/5886809/something-strange-happens-when-you-add-electricity-to-an-icicle#

    Electric charge separation during ice formation
    http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/j100244a027?journalCode=jpchax

    Piezoelectricity / Rochelle salt
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piezoelectricity
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassium_sodium_tartrate
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  10. Apr 18, 2015 #9

    mfb

    User Avatar
    2016 Award

    Staff: Mentor

    I think that is the important point.

    Yes a 1D lattice will have a dipole moment, of the order of 1 positive charge at one side and one negative charge at the other side (actually half of that, doesn't matter) - that is negligible for macroscopic objects. And if you add the second dimension, most of those dipole moments cancel for pairs of rows. You can still end up with a small net polarization from a few atoms, but most of the 1D lines cancel each other and the net effect is negligible.
     
  11. Apr 19, 2015 #10
    Actually, I am thinking about the definition of local dipole moment. How to define it properly in ionic crystals?
     
  12. Apr 19, 2015 #11

    mfb

    User Avatar
    2016 Award

    Staff: Mentor

    I'm not sure if that is a useful quantity.
    You can do something like weighting each atom by its distance with a Gaussian. The width of the Gaussian then defines how local your definition is.
     
  13. Apr 19, 2015 #12
    I think local dipole moment is a basic quantity in electromagnetic dynamics. For example: ##D=\epsilon E + P##.
     
  14. Apr 19, 2015 #13

    mfb

    User Avatar
    2016 Award

    Staff: Mentor

    Only if you consider volumes so large that you don't have to care about atoms any more. As far as I understand you try to do that here.
     
  15. Apr 23, 2015 #14
    The dipole moment (or polarization) for an infinite lattice is best studied using periodic boundary conditions. In such case the dipole moment is uncertain by a quantum (or defined modulo quantum). The topic is not trivial but an illuminating explanation can be found here:


    http://www.physics.rutgers.edu/~dhv/pubs/local_preprint/dv_fchap.pdf
     
  16. Apr 24, 2015 #15

    DrDu

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    There are crystals with a macroscopic electric moment, namely the so called ferroelectric substances. However, rocksalt does not belong to this class.
     
  17. Apr 24, 2015 #16

    DrDu

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    No, because polarisation is not simply the density of dipole moments, only in special cases.
     
  18. Apr 24, 2015 #17

    DrDu

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    That's the correct line of argument for e.g. rocksalt, but there are substances which behave like your one-dimensional example.
     
  19. Apr 26, 2015 #18
    Then what is polarisation?
     
  20. Apr 26, 2015 #19

    DrDu

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Read the article by Resta et al, useful nucleus was citing.
    Namely, they (and others) use ##P(t)= \int_{-\infty}^t dt' j(t')##, where j is the current density.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2015
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Do ionic crystals have total electric dipole moment?
  1. Dipole Moment (Replies: 2)

  2. Electric dipole moment (Replies: 2)

  3. Electric dipole moment (Replies: 1)

  4. Electric dipole moment (Replies: 3)

Loading...