How Does an Electrically Polarized Object Differ From an Electrically Charged Object?

An electrically charged object is made from atoms that do not contain an equal number of electrons and protons, giving them a positive or negative charge, while an electrically polarized object is made from atoms that have a neutral charge but the electrons and protons have changed their orientation within each atom. Electrically charged atoms are referred to as ions.

An electrically charged particle that contains a smaller number of electrons than protons has an overall positive electric charge and is called a cation. The reverse, an electrically charged particle with a larger number of electrons than protons, has an overall negative charge and is called an anion. Atoms become ions by interacting and exchanging electrons with other particles. They are generally less stable than atoms that have an equal number of protons and electrons.

Electric polarization relates to the way an object interacts with an electromagnetic field. As the electrons and protons change positions in relation to the poles of an atom, the magnetic properties of the system change. Magnetic polarization is a key behavior in the study of electromagnetism and the creation of magnets. It is sometimes referred to as polarization density and is measured by the units coulombs per square meter.