In electromagnetism, absolute permittivity is the measure of resistance that is encountered when forming an electric field in a medium. In other words, permittivity is a measure of how an electric field affects, and is affected by, a dielectric medium. The permittivity of a medium describes how much electric field (more correctly, flux) is 'generated' per unit charge in that medium. More electric flux exists in a medium with a low permittivity (per unit charge) because of polarization effects. Permittivity is directly related to electric susceptibility, which is a measure of how easily a dielectric polarizes in response to an electric field. Thus, permittivity relates to a material's ability to resist an electric field (while unfortunately the word stem "permit" suggests the inverse quantity).
In SI units, permittivity ''ε'' is measured in farads per meter (F/m); electric susceptibility ''χ'' is dimensionless. They are related to each other through
where ''ε''r is the relative permittivity of the material, and ''ε''0 = 8.8541878176.. × 10−12 F/m is the vacuum permittivity.
In electromagnetism, the :
where the permittivity ''ε'' is a scalar (physics)" TITLE="electric displacement field D represents how an electric field E influences the organization of electric charges in a given medium, including charge migration and electric dipole reorientation. Its relation to permittivity in the very simple case of ''linear, homogeneous, isotropic'' materials with ''"instantaneous" response'' to changes in electric field is
where the permittivity ''ε'' is a scalar (physics)">scalar. If the medium is anisotropic, the permittivity is a second rank tensor.
In general, permittivity is not a constant, as it can vary with the position in the medium, the frequency of the field applied, humidity, temperature, and other parameters. In a nonlinear optics
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