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Permanent effects on electron spin by magnetic materials?

  1. Jun 27, 2011 #1
    Hello all, I feel somewhat strange posting on this forum because I'm majoring in biology and we're supposed to be the enemies of physics, but I've come across a question that I can't seem to find an answer to; this is actually in regards to independent research. Does instantaneous or prolonged exposure of small molecules to a strong magnetic field (e.g., neodymium) cause a permanent or at least a long-lived shift in the electron spin within said small molecule? In other words, does exposing, say, a glass of ethanol to powerful magnets cause a detectable shift in the concentration of "up" vs "down" spins, or visa versa depending on the direction of the flux?

    I've been conducting research, and so far all I've found is that magnetic fields do in fact induce changes in electron spin (duh); and that they (the fields) cause electrons to either slightly approach or retreat from the nucleus; and that the spins in ferromagnetic materials are permanently shifted, thus turning them into a magnet; however I can't find any information on the longevity of the effect on non-ferromagnetic particles such as small organic compounds.

    Any help on this would be greatly appreciated, as this is a question that has been on my mind for a long time and has important implications for my research.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 27, 2011 #2

    Drakkith

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    Staff: Mentor

    I believe that sufficiently strong fields would cause at least some of the electrons to shift, however this puts them in a higher energy state than they would be normally. Also, permanent magnets don't have their electron spins themselves change, they cause them to line up in the material. The molecules or atoms themselves, and their domains in the material line up. I wouldn't think any of these electrons which have their spins changed would last long because it is an excited state. But I could be wrong.
     
  4. Jun 30, 2011 #3
    So shifting the electrons' spins has an effect on the energy? Is it because electrons sharing an orbital are normally opposed in spin, and the external magnetic field makes them go in unison?
     
  5. Jun 30, 2011 #4

    Drakkith

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    Staff: Mentor

    Since the electrons in one orbital cannot share the same quantum numbers, which includes spin, one of them would have to move to a higher energy state, which requires work.
     
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