Hysteresis is well known in ferromagnetic materials. When an external magnetic field is applied to a ferromagnet, the atomic dipoles align themselves with the external field. Even when the external field is removed, part of the alignment will be retained: the material has become magnetized.
The relationship between magnetic field strength (H) and magnetic flux density (B) is not linear in such materials. If the relationship between the two is plotted for increasing levels of field strength, it will follow a curve up to a point where further increases in magnetic field strength will result in no further change in flux density. This condition is called magnetic saturation.
If the magnetic field is now reduced linearly, the plotted relationship will follow a different curve back towards zero field strength at which point it will be offset from the original curve by an amount called the remanent flux density or remanence.
If this relationship is plotted for all strengths of applied magnetic field the result is a sort of S- shaped loop. The 'thickness' of the middle bit of the S describes the amount of hysteresis, related to the coercivity of the material.
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