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Paramagnetism vs Diamagnetism

Paramagnetism vs Diamagnetism

Paramagnetism and diamagnetism are two contrasting magnetic behaviors that arise due to the interaction between magnetic fields and materials. Both phenomena are influenced by the presence of unpaired electrons within the atoms of a substance, leading to distinct responses when subjected to an external magnetic field.

Read: Diamagnetism


Paramagnetism refers to the property of materials that are weakly attracted to an external magnetic field. It occurs when the material contains unpaired electrons, which align themselves with the magnetic field in a parallel manner, reinforcing the magnetic effect. One of the distinguishing characteristics of paramagnetic materials is that their magnetization is directly proportional to the strength of the applied magnetic field.


Diamagnetism, on the other hand, describes the property of materials that exhibit a weak repulsion when exposed to an external magnetic field. Unlike paramagnetism, diamagnetism occurs in all materials, even those without unpaired electrons. When a material is diamagnetic, it creates tiny circulating currents in response to the external magnetic field, leading to a weak magnetic moment opposing the field.

Key Differences between Paramagnetism and Diamagnetism

Understanding the differences between paramagnetism and diamagnetism is essential for grasping their significance in various applications and materials. Let’s explore these differences in detail:

Presence of Unpaired ElectronsContains unpaired electronsNo unpaired electrons
Attraction/RepulsionWeak attraction towards magnetic fieldWeak repulsion from the magnetic field
Magnetic SusceptibilityPositive and directly proportionalNegative and inversely proportional
SaturationExhibits saturation at high fieldsNo saturation; weak effect at all fields
PermeabilityGreater than unityLess than unity
ExamplesIron, Nickel, GadoliniumBismuth, Copper, Water

Applications of Paramagnetism and Diamagnetism

The unique magnetic properties exhibited by paramagnetic and diamagnetic materials find applications in various fields. Let’s explore some of the practical applications:

Paramagnetism Applications

  1. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): In the medical field, paramagnetic substances like gadolinium-based contrast agents are used in MRI scans to enhance the imaging quality and highlight specific areas.
  2. Electromagnetic Devices: Paramagnetic materials are crucial in the manufacturing of transformers, electric motors, and other electromagnetic devices due to their ability to amplify magnetic fields.
  3. Data Storage: Magnetic storage devices, such as hard drives, utilize paramagnetic materials to store and retrieve data magnetically.

Diamagnetism Applications

  1. Levitation: Diamagnetic materials like superconductors exhibit strong repulsion to magnetic fields, leading to magnetic levitation, which finds applications in high-speed trains and magnetic bearings.
  2. Magnetic Shielding: Diamagnetic materials are employed in sensitive equipment to create magnetic shields that protect them from external magnetic interference.
  3. Biological Studies: Diamagnetic properties are utilized in studies of living organisms to study the magnetic behavior of certain biomolecules.

Real-Life Examples

To further illustrate the concepts of paramagnetism and diamagnetism, let’s look at some real-life examples of these phenomena in action:

Paramagnetism in Gadolinium-Based MRI Contrast Agents

In medical settings, gadolinium-based contrast agents are utilized to improve the visibility of specific tissues during MRI scans. Gadolinium possesses unpaired electrons, making it a paramagnetic material. When introduced into the body, these contrast agents temporarily alter the magnetic properties of tissues, enhancing the contrast in MRI images and aiding in the diagnosis of various medical conditions.

Diamagnetic Levitation of Superconductors

Superconductors are remarkable materials that exhibit complete diamagnetism when cooled below their critical temperature. This property leads to the expulsion of magnetic fields from the interior of the superconductor, causing it to levitate above a magnet. This phenomenon has practical applications in maglev trains, where superconductors enable frictionless, high-speed transportation.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

  1. What is the fundamental difference between paramagnetism and diamagnetism?
    Paramagnetism occurs in materials with unpaired electrons, exhibiting weak attraction to an external magnetic field, while diamagnetism is observed in all materials, causing weak repulsion from the magnetic field.
  2. Are paramagnetic materials used in everyday technologies?
    Yes, paramagnetic materials find applications in various everyday technologies, such as electromagnets, transformers, and magnetic storage devices.
  3. Can diamagnetic materials be magnetized?
    Diamagnetic materials can be weakly magnetized in the opposite direction to an applied magnetic field, but they do not retain the magnetization once the external field is removed.
  4. What are the practical applications of diamagnetic materials?
    Diamagnetic materials are used in magnetic shielding, magnetic levitation, and certain biological studies.
  5. Which is stronger, paramagnetism, or ferromagnetism?
    Ferromagnetism is stronger than paramagnetism because it exhibits a much higher magnetic susceptibility and magnetic moment.
  6. What happens to the magnetic properties of a paramagnetic material at extremely high magnetic fields?
    At extremely high magnetic fields, paramagnetic materials reach a point of saturation, where their magnetic moment aligns completely with the applied field, and they cannot be further magnetized.


In conclusion, paramagnetism and diamagnetism are fascinating magnetic phenomena that play crucial roles in various scientific and technological applications. Understanding the distinct properties and behaviors of these materials offers valuable insights into the world of magnetism. From medical imaging to high-speed transportation, paramagnetic and diamagnetic materials continue to shape modern technology and enhance our understanding of the natural world.