On the Theory of Dielectric Polarization in Liquids


ONSAGER1 has developed a theory of the dielectric polarization in liquids, in many respects different from the current theory of Lorentz-Debye. We propose to show that the method of calculating the dipole energy, used by Onsager in his theory, does not correspond exactly to the assumptions of this theory. Onsager calculates the momentum of forces rotating the molecule in such a manner as if the rotation of the resulting moment (being the vectorial sum of both the permanent and induced moment) were decisive for the rotation of the molecule. In fact, however, only the axis of the permanent moment, and not that of the induced moment is rigidly bound to the isotropic molecule. This fact causes the real expression for the energy of the molecule to differ from the formula presented by Onsager. Wo obtain therefore instead of Onsager's formula:


  1. 1

    Onsager, L., J. Amer. Chem. Soc., 58, 1486 (1936). See also Falkenhagen, H., Phys. Z., 39, 806 (1938).

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  2. 2

    Böttcher, C. J. F., Physica, 6, 59 (1939).

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ZAKRZEWSKI, K., PIEKARA, A. On the Theory of Dielectric Polarization in Liquids. Nature 144, 250 (1939). https://doi.org/10.1038/144250a0

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