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Relative static permittivity

Relative static permittivities of some materials at room temperature under 1 kHz[1][2]
Material Dielectric constant
(1 kHz)
(1 kHz)
Vacuum 1. (by definition)
Air 1.00054
Teflon™ 2.1
Polyethylene 2.25
Polystyrene 2.4–2.7
Paper 3.5
Electroactive polymers 2–12
Silicon dioxide 3.7
Concrete 4.5
Pyrex (Glass) 4.7 (3.7–10)
Rubber 7
Diamond 5.5–10
Salt 3–15
Graphite 10–15
Silicon 11.68
Methanol 30
Furfural 42.0
Glycerol 47–68
Water 88–80.1–55.3–34.5
(0–20–100–200 °C)
Hydrofluoric acid 83.6 (0 °C)
Formamide 84.0 (20 °C)
Sulfuric acid 84–100
(20–25 °C)
Hydrogen peroxide 128 aq–60
(−30–25 °C)
Hydrocyanic acid 158.0–2.3
(0–21 °C)
Titanium dioxide 86–173
Strontium titanate 310
Barium strontium titanate 15 nc–500
Barium titanate 90 nc–1250–10,000
(20–120 °C)
(La,Nb):(Zr,Ti)PbO3 500–6000
Conjugated polymers 6–100,000[4]
μm–nm heterostructures 1000–100,000[5]
(106–108 at 100 Hz)

The relative static permittivity (or static relative permittivity) of a material under given conditions is a measure of the extent to which it concentrates electrostatic lines of flux. It is the ratio of the amount of stored electrical energy when a potential is applied, relative to the permittivity of a vacuum. The relative static permittivity is the same as the relative permittivity evaluated for a frequency of zero.

The relative static permittivity is represented as εr or sometimes κ or K or Dk. It is defined as

\varepsilon_{r} = \frac{\varepsilon_{s}}{\varepsilon_{0}},

where εs is the static permittivity of the material, and ε0 is vacuum permittivity. (The relative permittivity is the complex frequency-dependent \varepsilon(\omega) / \varepsilon_0, which gives the static relative permittivity for ω = 0.)

Another term for the relative static permittivity is the dielectric constant, or the relative dielectric constant, or the static dielectric constant. These terms, while they remain very common, are ambiguous and have been deprecated by some standards organizations.[6][7] The reason for the potential ambiguity is twofold. First, some older authors used "dielectric constant" or "absolute dielectric constant" for the absolute permittivity \varepsilon rather than the relative permittivity.[8] Second, while in most modern usage "dielectric constant" refers to a relative permittivity[9], it may be either the static or the frequency-dependent relative permittivity depending on context.

By definition, the relative permittivity of vacuum, where \varepsilon = \varepsilon_0, is equal to 1.

The static relative permittivity of a medium is related to its static electric susceptibility, χe by

\varepsilon_r = 1 + \chi_e,

in SI units.



The relative static permittivity εr can be measured for static electric fields as follows: first the capacitance of a test capacitor C0 is measured with vacuum between its plates. Then, using the same capacitor and distance between its plates the capacitance Cx with a dielectric between the plates is measured. The relative dielectric constant can be then calculated as

\varepsilon_{r} = \frac{C_{x}} {C_{0}}.

For time-variant electromagnetic fields, this quantity becomes frequency dependent and in general is called relative permittivity.

Practical relevance

The dielectric constant is an essential piece of information when designing capacitors, and in other circumstances where a material might be expected to introduce capacitance into a circuit. If a material with a high dielectric constant is placed in an electric field, the magnitude of that field will be measurably reduced within the volume of the dielectric. This fact is commonly used to increase the capacitance of a particular capacitor design. The layers beneath etched conductors in Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) also act as dielectrics.

Dielectrics are used in RF transmission lines. In a coaxial cable, polyethylene can be used between the center conductor and outside shield. It can also be placed inside waveguides to form filters. Optical fibers are examples of dielectric waveguides. They consist of dielectric materials that are purposely doped with impurities so as to control the precise value of εr within the cross-section. This controls the refractive index of the material and therefore also the optical modes of transmission. However, in these cases it is technically the relative permittivity that matters, as they are not operated in the electrostatic limit.

Chemical applications

The dielectric constant of a solvent is a relative measure of its polarity. For example, water (very polar) has a dielectric constant of 80.10 at 20 °C while n-hexane (very non-polar) has a dielectric constant of 1.89 at 20 °C.[10] This information is of great value when designing separation, sample preparation and chromatography techniques in analytical chemistry.

See also

  • Dielectric strength
  • Low-k
  • High-k


  1. ^ Dielectric Constants of Materials (2007). Clipper Controls.
  2. ^ Google
  3. ^ a b Lourtioz, J.-M. et al, Photonic Crystals: Towards Nanoscale Photonic Devices (2005). France: Hermes Science; Springer. p.121, "Drude Model", (4.6): Drag constants τ are unknown; error bars a=1÷1.7⋇52 and b=1×1.7⋇52 are for conductivity and order-of-magnitude.
  4. ^|permittivity
  5. ^|colossal+polarization|permittivity|dielectric-constant
  6. ^ Braslavsky, S.E. (2007), " ", Pure and Applied Chemistry 79: p. 293-465; see p. 32,
  7. ^ IEEE Standards Board (1997). IEEE Standard Definitions of Terms for Radio Wave Propagation p. 6.
  8. ^ King, Ronold W. P. (1963). Fundamental Electromagnetic Theory. New York: Dover, p. 139. 
  9. ^ Jackson, John David (1998). Classical Electrodynamics, 3rd edition. New York: Wiley, p. 154. 
  10. ^ D.R. Lide, Ed. CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 85th Ed. (2004). CRC Press. Boca Raton. p.8–141.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Relative_static_permittivity". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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