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Difference Between Isotropic and Anisotropic

Isotropic vs Anisotropic

“Isotropic” and “anisotropic” are two contrasting adjectives and nouns used to describe the properties of materials and minerals. Both “isotropic” and “anisotropic” also contain the element of direction in its description.

“Anisotropic” refers to the properties of a material that is dependent on the direction. Another condition that can fit the anisotropic definition is the presence of different properties in different directions. A different chemical bonding in all directions is also a condition for anisotropy.

A mineral can be considered as anisotropic if the mineral allows some light to pass through it. The mineral’s upper polar system allows light to pass through. In truth, it affects the polarization of light. The velocity of light is also different, and there is double refraction (which means that light is split into two ways).

In anisotropic minerals, the consequence of double refraction can lead to either of its two types; uniaxial (meaning one optic axis) or biaxial (two axes).
Anisotropic materials are often found in materials in different fields like computer graphics, chemistry, real-world imagery, physics, geography and geophysics, medical acoustics, material science and engineering, microfabrication, and neuroscience.
On the other hand, an isotropic materias or minerals have properties that have the same or uniform properties in all directions. Isotropic materials are said to be independent in direction or manner. An implication of being an isotropic material or mineral is that the chemical bonds are all identical in all directions.

An isotropic mineral can appear dark or stay dark when light passes through it. The uniform structure of the mineral blocks the light in all directions. In addition, the light doesn’t affect the mineral’s polarization or the direction of light. The velocity of light is in all directions and the index of refraction is everywhere.

Isotropic materials are found in many industries like mathematics, physics, materials science, geography, economics, and biology. In terms of word structure, “anisotropic” is derived from “isotropic.” The Greek prefix “an” indicates a contrast in meaning and use from the attached base or root word. In this case, the root word is “isotropic” that literally means “equal direction.” “Iso” is the Greek word for “equal” while “tropic” is the same Greek translation language word for “direction.”

Both anisotropic and isotropic can be used as nouns and adjectives. They can also form other word genres like adverbs or other adjectives.


1.“Isotropic” and “anisotropic” are related words that are opposites of each other. “Isotropic” is a noun and adjective that describe something with identical properties in all directions. 2.As its opposite, anisotropic also serves the same purpose (as a noun and adjective) for materials with different properties in all directions.
3.“Isotropic” is independent of direction while “anisotropic” materials are very dependent on this element.
4.In minerals, anisotropic minerals can be penetrated by light due to their inconsistent properties in all directions. This is the opposite for isotropic minerals. Light cannot penetrate the mineral because the mineral’s properties block the light in any direction possible.
5.Chemical bonding is another point of difference. Anisotropic minerals have different and inconsistent chemical bonding. Isotropic minerals, on the other hand, exhibit consistent and uniform chemical bonding within the mineral.
6.Anisotropic minerals have the characteristic of double refraction which can be classified as uniaxial or biaxial. Meanwhile, isotropic minerals don’t have this characteristic.
7.In terms of structure, “anisotropic” is a derived term. It is a word that came from “isotropic” which means “equal direction.” The addition of the Greek prefix “an” makes its meaning the opposite equivalent of its root or base word. The opposition of meaning is also true for other words with this prefix “an”.

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