Difference Between Isotropic and Anisotropic

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The word isotropic is derived from Greek words isos means equal and tropos means way. So, Isotropic meaning has the same properties in all directions. Some materials such as metals, diamonds, glasses etc. exhibit the same material properties (such as strength, stiffness) in all directions, these materials are known as isotropic materials and this type of behavior of these materials is known as isotropy. 

The word anisotropic is also derived from the Greek words an means without, isos means equal and tropos means way. Thus, anisotropic meaning has different properties in different directions. It is the opposite of isotropic. Wood and composite materials are good examples of anisotropic materials. Properties of these materials are dependent on directions; it means they show different properties in different directions. This type of behavior of these materials is called anisotropy. 

Isotropic vs Anisotropic -

Difference Between Isotropic and Anisotropic Materials is as Follows – 

S.No.

Isotropic Material 

Anisotropic Material 

1.

Isotropic materials show the same properties in all directions. 

Anisotropic materials show different properties in different directions. 

2. 

Glass, crystals with cubic symmetry, diamonds, metals are examples of isotropic materials. 

Wood, composite materials, all crystals (except cubic crystal) are examples of anisotropic materials. 

3. 

These materials are direction independent. 

These materials are direction dependent. 

4. 

These materials have a single refractive index.

These materials have many refractive indices. 

5. 

These materials have consistent chemical bonding. 

These materials have inconsistent chemical bonding.

6. 

Isotropic minerals generally appear dark. 

Anisotropic minerals generally appear light. 

7. 

These materials don’t show characteristics such as optical activity, dichroism etc. 

Optical activity, dichroism, dispersion in presence of different refractive indices are few characteristics of anisotropic materials.

8. 

These materials are used in windows and lenses. 

These materials are used for wedges, optical waveplates, polarizers etc. 

9. 

These materials show the same velocity of light in all directions. 

These show different velocity of light in different directions. 

10. 

Unpolarized light doesn’t split (double refraction) into two in isotropic medium. 

Anisotropic medium splits unpolarized light into two when it enters the medium. 

 

It is possible that an isotropic material may show anisotropy at many parts. Although as a whole it remains isotropic as isotropic parts and anisotropic parts cancel out each other. 

If you want to know more about isotropy and anisotropy and other terms like homogeneous, orthotropic etc. then register yourself on Vedantu and get free pdfs of study material, NCERT Solutions for Class I-XII.