A property observed in certain materials characterized by the presence of a spontaneous electric polarization even in the absence of an external electric field. In the ferroelectric state the center of positive charge of the material does not coincide with the center of negative charge. This phenomenon is explained by spontaneous alignment of these permanent moments along the same direction. The term comes from the similarity with → ferromagnetism, but iron is not a ferroelectric. Ferroelectricity disappears above a critical temperature. Ferroelectric materials have been a fertile field for the study of → phase transitions.