A graphical curve showing the relation between magnetic induction B and magnetizing force H for a magnetic material. Also known as magnetization curve. The set of magnetisation curves, M above represents an example of the relationship between B and H for soft-iron and steel cores but every type of core material will have its own set of curves. You may notice that the flux density increases in proportion to the field strength until it reaches a certain value were it can not increase any more becoming almost level and constant as the field strength continues to increase. This is because there is a limit to the amount of flux density that can be generated by the core as all the domains in the iron are perfectly aligned. Any further increase will have no effect on the value of M, and the point on the graph where the flux density reaches its limit is called Magnetic Saturation also known as Saturation of the Core and in our simple example above the saturation point of the steel curve begins at about 3000 ampere-turns per metre.
Saturation occurs because as we remember from the previous Magnetism tutorial which included Weber's theory, the random haphazard arrangement of the molecule structure within the core material changes as the tiny molecular magnets within the material become "lined-up". As the magnetic field strength, (H) increases these molecular magnets become more and more aligned until they reach perfect alignment producing maximum flux density and any increase in the magnetic field strength due to an increase in the electrical current flowing through the coil will have little or no effect.
The Hysteresis Loop
In the case of a typical recording medium the hysteresis loop gives the relation between the magnetization M and the applied field H. A hysteresis loop of a magnetic recording medium is illustrated schematically in Figure 1. The parameters extracted from the hysteresis loop that are most often used to characterize the magnetic properties of magnetic media include; the saturation magnetization Ms, the remanence Mr, the coercivity Hc, the squareness ratio SQR, S* which is related to the slope at Hc , and the switching field distribution SFD. The loop illustrated in Figure 1 shows the behavior for the easy axis of magnetization (i.e., in the anisotropy direction). The loop has a rectangular shape and exhibits irreversible changes of the magnetization. The hard axis loop, where the hard axis is at right angles to the easy axis, is more or less linear and generally hysteresis free, i.e., the magnetization is reversible. Magnetic materials that show a preferential direction for the alignment of magnetization are said to be magnetically anisotropic. When a material has a single easy and hard axis, the material is said to be uniaxially anisotropic
The intrinsic saturation is approached at high H, and at zero-field the remanence is reached. The squareness ratio is given by the ratio of (Mr/Ms) and is essentially a measure of how square the hysteresis loop is. In general large SQR values are desired for recording medium. The formal definition of the coercivity Hc is the field required to reduce the magnetization to zero after saturation. The physical meaning of Hc is dependent on the magnetization process, and may be the nucleation field, domain wall coercive field, or anisotropy field. Hc is a very complicated parameter for magnetic films and is related to the reversal mechanism and the magnetic microstructure, i.e., shape and dimensions of the crystallites, nature of the boundaries, and also the surface and initial layer properties, etc.