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Kind of magnetism that occurs in materials weakly attracted by a strong magnet. Compounds containing iron, palladium, platinum, and the rare-earth elements exhibit strong paramagnetism because they have atoms with some incomplete inner electron shells. Their unpaired electrons make the atoms behave like tiny permanent magnets that align with and strengthen an applied magnetic field. As the temperature rises, strong paramagnetism decreases because of the greater random motion of the atoms. Weak paramagnetism, found in many solid metallic elements, is independent of temperature.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on paramagnetism, visit Britannica.com.