This is a measure of the strength of a dipole. It is a combination of the magnitude of the charges are and how widely they are separated.

A dipole moment may either be electric or magnetic.

The electric dipole moment is an expression of the charge distribution. It is a vector quantity, calculated by

      p = | r rho dv

where p is the dipole moment.  It has the units of charge x distance.
      r is a vector from the origin to the charge
      dv denotes the integration of the charge distribution (rho) over space

For the simplest case, a separation of two point charges +q and -q, separated by a distance s, the magnitude of the dipole moment is qs, and the direction is from the negative charge to the positive.


Some molecules may have permanent dipole moments, or can be induced to form a dipole in an electric field. The propensity for an induced dipole to be formed is known as the polarizability of a molecule (or an atom). A spherically symmetric atomic orbital, like that of the hydrogen atom, will have no net dipole moment (time averaged) because the direction of the proton-electron dipole is spherically averaged out. However, in a strong electric field, the electron density can be forced in the direction of the field, causing a temporary bias in the dipole distribution.

Permanent dipole moments occur in molecules that are asymmetric such as HCl or carbon monoxide. The difference in electron distribution across the two atoms creates a permanent charge separation, resulting in a dipole.

The magnetic dipole moment is a different quantity. It is classically characterized by the magnetic field observed at a distance from a current loop with current I and area a:

	m = Ia/c

In a molecule, it is related to the spin, or angular momentum of an electron. In a similar fashion to polarizability, diamagnetic and paramagnetic materials can exhibit a magnetic moment which is proportional to the magnetic field applied. The relationship between field strength and moment is known as the magnetic susceptibility. Magnetic fields in iron or other diamagnetic substances is caused by uniform orientation of magnetic dipole domains within the material.

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