Difference Between Isotropic vs Anisotropic

Difference Between Isotropic vs Anisotropic

As a person, you are unique in your own ways, and that is what identifies you and sets you apart from other people. You may be good at sports, but not so good academically – this does not make you less, it only makes you unique. In that same light, every matter on earth has its strengths and weaknesses, and this affects the way it functions.

In this post, we will be talking about the disparities between isotropic vs anisotropic when compared side by side. These are scientific terms that explain the properties of materials as it has to do with their bond formation in diverse points of views.

Definition of Isotropic

Isotropic can simply be defined as the same in all perspectives. This means that if an object bends towards the north when pulled that direction with a certain amount of force, then the same object would respond in the same manner under the same circumstance for all other angles. In other words, every matter under this category displays exactly the same physical properties at all angles.

From what have been explained so far, we can define an isotropic material as one that responds in the same physical behavior regardless of approach. The basic material properties that determine the isotropic nature of an element include strength, the ability to absorb, electric resistance, and thermal conductivity.

To further explain the difference between isotropic and anisotropic, we can site quite a number of instances, but we will go with just metal. It is a good conductor of electricity, has high ductility (does not lose toughness when out of shape), has high density, and can be changed from one shape to another by exerting a strong physical force. This shows that you can do all sorts of things to it and it would still respond in the same manner.

Definition of Anisotropic

Anisotropic is defined as being irregular in diverse directions. This nature is attributed to the property of a material that allows it to change or assume a different property in diverse perspectives.

From the definitions of these two terms, one can say that the difference between anisotropic and isotropic can be seen in the directions of the properties exhibited by the materials. The former has materials with identical properties exhibited in various directions while the latter has different properties exhibited in unlike directions.

Materials classified under this category are also known as “triclinic” materials. They are characterized by direction-dependency and are made up of unsymmetrical crystalline structures. The atoms are also concentrated and distributed uniquely with respect to varying directions.

A very good example that describes this concept is wood. When you look at the interior of a piece of wood, you can see that the lines go in the same direction, which is why it is hard to snap a piece of wood in-between the lines but it is easier to snap it across the lines. This is why it is referred to as an unsymmetrical crystalline structure. Each surface reacts differently when subjected to the same condition.

Main Differences Between Isotropic vs Anisotropic

You can only learn so much from the definitions of these terms. There are other ways to distinguish these terms from the other judging by their uses, appearance, refractive index, the velocity of light, chemical bonding, and so on.

Basis of ComparisonIsotropicAnisotropic
DefinitionThe identical multi-directional properties of a materialThe tendency of a material to exhibit different properties in diverse directions
Makes use ofLensesPolarizers
Chemical bondingConsistentUncertain
Velocity of lightSame in all directionVaries with direction
Physical propertyDark appearanceLight appearance
Double refractionNoYes
ExampleMetal, glass, diamonds, air, water, etc.Composite materials, wood, all crystals except cubic crystals, etc.

Difference Between Isotropic and Anisotropic: Conclusion

Understanding the anisotropic vs isotropic comparison is crucial in crystallography, which is a branch of science that deals with the manner of arrangement and the type of bonding that exists between atoms of different materials and properties.

From all what has been said so far, the latter can also be defined as the existence of dissimilar properties in various directions while the former is the existence of similar properties in the various axis.