Dictionary > Polarization

Polarization

Definition
noun
(general) The condition of polarity
(biology) The process or act of producing positive and negative electric charge values to opposite ends, such as the electrical charge inside a (nerve) cell relative to the surrounding environment
Supplement
Polarization in general context refers to the state or condition of polarity. In biology, polarization pertains to the act or process of producing a positive electrical charge and a negative electrical charge such that between a nerve cell internal electrical charge, which is negative, and the surrounding environment of a nerve cell, which is positive. The cell is able to regulate the differing electrical charge relative to its surrounding via the plasma membrane. A closer look at the plasma membrane reveals transmembrane proteins and pumps that act as ion channels. These proteins that are embedded in the plasma membrane are selective, which means they allow certain molecules to move in and out of the cell while prevent or control the efflux and influx of others (in this regard, ions). There are move negative ions (e.g. Cl) inside the cell, which results in a cell that is negative relative to the outside. In general, a nerve cell has a resting potential of approximately -70 mV.1
Word origin: French polarisation
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  • polarisation

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