During microwave heating, electromagnetic energy is converted to thermal energy within the sample; the mechanism is therefore essentially one of energy conversion, not just heat transfer. When microwaves penetrate and are converted to thermal energy within the material, heat energy is generated throughout the volume of the material; this results in volumetric heating and rapid, uniform heat-up of the bulk material.
The thermal gradient profile in a conventionally heated sample could be thought of as the reverse of that in microwave heating, in that the center could be slightly less hot than the outside because the thermal energy flows inward. In microwave heating, however, the center may be slightly hotter due to the internal energy conversion mechanisms, coupled with heat losses from the surfaces.
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