VIAS Encyclopedia provides a collection of tables and definitions commonly needed in science and engineering.

Curie Point

The Curie point (Tc), or Curie temperature, is a term in physics and materials science, named after Pierre Curie (1859-1906), and refers to a characteristic property of a ferromagnetic or piezoelectric material.

Curie point in ferromagnetic materials

Material  Tc [K]
Co 1388
Fe 1043
MnBi 630
Ni 627
MnSb 587
CrO2 386
MnAs 318
Gd 292
Dy 88
EuO 69

The Curie point of a ferromagnetic material is the temperature above which it loses its characteristic ferromagnetic ability. At temperatures below the Curie point the magnetic moments are partially aligned within magnetic domains in ferromagnetic materials. As the temperature is increased from below the Curie point, thermal fluctuations increasingly destroy this alignment, until the net magnetization becomes zero at and above the Curie point. Above the Curie point, the material is purely paramagnetic.

At temperatures below the Curie point, an applied magnetic field has a paramagnetic effect on the magnetization, but the combination of paramagnetism with ferromagnetism leads to the magnetization following a hysteresis curve with the applied field strength. The destruction of magnetization at the Curie temperature is a second-order phase transition and a critical point where the magnetic susceptibility is theoretically infinite.

Curie temperature in piezoelectric materials

In analogy to ferromagnetic materials, the Curie temperature is also used in piezoelectric materials to describe the temperature above which the material loses its spontaneous polarization and piezoelectric characteristics. In lead zirconate titanate (PZT), the material is tetragonal below Tc and the unit cell contains a displaced central cation and hence a net dipole moment. Above Tc, the material is cubic and the central cation is no longer displaced from the centre of the unit cell. Hence, there is no net dipole moment and no spontaneous polarization.

Last Update: 2007-08-31