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Is there any direct relationship between permittivity of a medium and attenuation of an EM wave? What about conductivity vs attenuation?

edit: Ok for instance an EM wave traveling in sea water. I get that due to conductivity the ions would induce an opposite E field to cancel out the EM wave thus attenuating the wave, but I'm really confused on an intuitive understanding of the permeability of a medium.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This could take several different routes to give a full answer and probably leave you baffled. Why don't you consider trying to be more specific about a particular problem. Very short answer to above is "Maybe and yes". \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka Jun 8 '15 at 12:47
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If the permittivity of the medium is a perfect dielectric, then there is no attenuation of the EM wave as it propagates through the material. The idea is that the wave does not expend any energy to pass through the dielectric. Things get a little tricker if you have a dielectric subject to polarization, but if you're looking for a very basic understanding.

  1. Perfect dielectrics have no attenuation.
  2. Dielectrics with any kind of loss, conductivity, have some attenuation.

If you are dealing with a complex permittivity, this will have a direct relationship to conductivity.

\$\hat\epsilon = \epsilon\prime - j\epsilon\prime\prime\$

The complex part of the permittivity is the electrical conduction in the material.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there any clear relationship between the dielectric constant and the conductivity of the medium? \$\endgroup\$ – Austin Jun 8 '15 at 15:14

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