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Electric fields associated with the space‐charge layer at the surface of silver halide grains are expected to have a marked effect on the photographic properties of emulsions. The purpose of this paper is to describe a new method based on dielectric measurements to obtain information on the surface layers. It is shown that the surface layers have a strong effect on the low‐frequency dielectric constant so that it is possible to derive the properties of the former from measurements made on the latter. Formulas connecting the layer properties to the dielectric constant of the crystal are derived. The experimental results, obtained with the method described here, will be the subject of a separate paper.