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In physics, there are several kinds of dipole:

An electric dipole is a separation of positive and negative charges. The simplest example of this is a pair of electric charges of equal magnitude but opposite sign, separated by some distance. A permanent electric dipole is called an electret. A magnetic dipole is a closed circulation of electric current. A simple example of this is a single loop of wire with some constant current flowing through it.A flow dipole is a separation of a sink and a source. In a highly viscous medium, a two-beater kitchen mixer causes a dipole flow field. An acoustic dipole is the oscillating version of it. A simple example is a dipole speaker. Any scalar or other field may have a dipole moment.

Dipoles can be characterized by their dipole moment, a vector quantity. For the simple electric dipole given above, the electric dipole moment points from the negative charge towards the positive charge, and has a magnitude equal to the strength of each charge times the separation between the charges.

For the current loop, the magnetic dipole moment points through the loop, with a magnitude equal to the current in the loop times the area of the loop.

In addition to current loops, the electron, among other fundamental particles, has a magnetic dipole moment. This is because it generates a magnetic field that is identical to that generated by a very small current loop. However, to the best of our knowledge, the electron's magnetic moment is not due to a current loop, but is instead an intrinsic property of the electron. It is also possible that the electron has an electric dipole moment, although this has not yet been observed.

Contour plot of the electrostatic potential of a horizontally oriented electrical dipole of finite size. Strong colors indicate highest and lowest potential. A permanent magnet, such as a bar magnet, owes its magnetism to the intrinsic magnetic dipole moment of the electron. The two ends of a bar magnet are referred to as poles, and are labeled "north" and "south." The dipole moment of the bar magnet points from its magnetic south to its magnetic north pole. The north pole of a bar magnet in a compass points north. However, this means that Earth's geomagnetic north pole is the south pole of its dipole moment, and vice versa.

The only known mechanisms for the creation of magnetic dipoles are by current loops or quantum-mechanical spin since the existence of magnetic monopoles has never been experimentally demonstrated.

The term comes from the Greek δίς, "twice" and πόλος, "axis". [1]

Dipole antenna

A dipole antenna is a radio antenna the most basic and popular antenna type. It comes in various geometries, with different feeding mechanisms and radiating elements. This antenna is the simplest practical antenna from a theoretical point of view. Dipole antennas were invented by German physicist Heinrich Hertz around 1886 in his pioneering experiments with radio waves. As of today, the dipole antenna is probably the most common antenna type. [2]

Physical dipoles, point dipoles, and approximate dipoles

A physical dipole consists of two equal and opposite point charges: literally, two poles. Its field at large distances depends almost entirely on the dipole moment. A point dipole is the limit obtained by letting the separation tend to 0 while keeping the dipole moment fixed. The field of a point dipole has a particularly simple form, and the order-1 term in the multipole expansion is precisely the point dipole field.

There's no such thing as a magnetic physical dipole, since there are no magnetic monopoles. A magnetic point dipole has a magnetic field of the exact same form as the electric field of an electric point dipole. A very small current-carrying loop is approximately a magnetic point dipole; the magnetic dipole moment of such a loop is the product of the current flowing in the loop and the area of the loop.

Any configuration of charges or currents has a dipole moment, which describes the dipole whose field is the best approximation, at large distances, to that of the given configuration. This is simply one term in the multipole expansion; when the charge is 0 — as it always is for the magnetic case, since there are no magnetic monopoles — the dipole term is the dominant one at large distances: it falls off in proportion to 1/r3, as compared to 1/r4 for the next term and higher powers of 1/r for higher terms. [3]

Dipole-Dipole Forces

Many molecules contain bonds that fall between the extremes of ionic and covalent bonds. The difference between the electronegativities of the atoms in these molecules is large enough that the electrons aren't shared equally, and yet small enough that the electrons aren't drawn exclusively to one of the atoms to form positive and negative ions. The bonds in these molecules are said to be polar, because they have positive and negative ends, or poles, and the molecules are often said to have a dipole moment.

HCl molecules, for example, have a dipole moment because the hydrogen atom has a slight positive charge and the chlorine atom has a slight negative charge. Because of the force of attraction between oppositely charged particles, there is a small dipole-dipole force of attraction between adjacent HCl molecules.

Dipole-Induced Dipole Forces

What would happen if we mixed HCl with argon, which has no dipole moment? The electrons on an argon atom are distributed homogeneously around the nucleus of the atom. But these electrons are in constant motion. When an argon atom comes close to a polar HCl molecule, the electrons can shift to one side of the nucleus to produce a very small dipole moment that lasts for only an instant.

By distorting the distribution of electrons around the argon atom, the polar HCl molecule induces a small dipole moment on this atom, which creates a weak dipole-induced dipole force of attraction between the HCl molecule and the Ar atom. This force is very weak, with a bond energy of about 1 kJ/mol.

Induced Dipole-Induced Dipole Forces

Neither dipole-dipole nor dipole-induced forces can explain the fact that helium becomes a liquid at temperatures below 4.2 K. By itself, a helium atom is perfectly symmetrical. But movement of the electrons around the nuclei of a pair of neighboring helium atoms can become synchronized so that each atom simultaneously obtains an induced dipole moment.

These fluctuations in electron density occur constantly, creating an induced dipole-induced dipole force of attraction between pairs of atoms. As might be expected, this force is relatively weak in helium -- only 0.076 kJ/mol. But atoms or molecules become more polarizable as they become larger because there are more electrons to be polarized. It has been argued that the primary force of attraction between molecules in solid I2 and in frozen CCl4 is induced dipole-induced dipole attraction.