## Electromagnetic induction

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# Electromagnetic Induction

Fundamentals

Applications

Electromagnetic induction is the generation of an electromotive force in a closed electrical circuit by a changing magnetic field that passes through the circuit. (To grasp what it means for a magnetic field to pass through a circuit, imagine a bundle of raw spaghetti held in a circle made of thumb and forefinger: the strands of spaghetti correspond to magnetic field lines, and the thumb and forefinger correspond to the conducting loop or circuit.) Some of the most basic components of electrical power systems, such as generators and transformers, make use of electromagnetic induction.

## Fundamentals

The phenomenon of electromagnetic induction was discovered by the British physicist Michael Faraday in 1831 and independently observed soon thereafter by the American physicist Joseph Henry. Prior to that time, it was known that the presence of an electric charge would cause other charges on nearby conductors to redistribute themselves. Furthermore, in 1820 the Danish physicist Hans Christian Oersted demonstrated that an electric current produces a magnetic field. It seemed reasonable, then, to ask whether or not a magnetic field might cause some kind of electrical effect, such as a current.

An electric charge that is stationary in a magnetic field will not interact with the field in any way. Nor will a moving charge interact with the field if it travels parallel

to the fields direction. However, a moving charge that crosses the field will experience a force that is perpendicular both to the field and to the direction of motion of the charge (Figure 1). Now, instead of a single charge, consider a rectangular loop of wire moving through the field. Two sides of the loop will be subjected to forces that are perpendicular to the wire itself so that no charges will be moved. Along the other two sides charge will flow, but because the forces are equal the charges will simply bunch up on the same side, building up an internal electric field to counteract the imposed force, and there will be no net current (Figure 2).

How can a magnetic field cause current to flow through the loop? Faraday discovered that it was not enough for a magnetic field to be present In order to generate current, the magnetic flux through the loop the number of magnetic field lines enclosedmust change with time. The term flux refers to the flow of the magnetic field lines through the area enclosed by the loop. The flux of the magnetic field lines is like the flow of water through a pipe and may increase or decrease with time.

To understand how the change in flux generates a current, consider a circuit made of many rectangular loops connected to a light bulb. Under what conditions will current flow and the light bulb shine? If the circuit is pulled through a uniform magnetic field there will be no current because the flux will be constant. But, if the field is non-uniform, the charges on one side of the loop will continually experience a force greater than that on the other side. This difference in forces will cause the charges to circulate around the loop in a current that lights the bulb. The work done in moving each charge through the circuit is called the electro-motive force (EMF). The units of electromotive force are volts just like the voltage of a battery that also causes current to flow through a circuit. It makes no difference to the circuit whether the changing flux is caused by the loops own motion or that of the magnetic field, so the case of a stationary circuit and a moving non-uniform field is equivalent to the previous situation and again the bulb will light (Figure 3).

Yet a current can be induced in the circuit without moving either the loop or the field. While a stationary loop in a constant magnetic field will not cause the bulb to light, that same stationary loop in a field that is changing in time (such as when the field is being turned on or off) will experience an electromotive force. This comes about because a changing magnetic field generates an electric field whose direction is given by the right-hand rulewith the thumb of your right hand pointing in the direction of the change of the magnetic flux, your fingers can be wrapped around in the direction of the induced electric field. With an EMF directed around the circuit, current will flow and the bulb will light (Figure 3).

The different conditions by which a magnetic field can cause current to flow through a circuit are summarized by Faradays law of induction. The variation in time of the flux of a magnetic field through a surface bounded by an electrical circuit generates an electro-motive force in that circuit.

What is the direction of the induced current? A magnetic field will be generated by the induced current. If the flux of that field were to add to the initial magnetic flux through the circuit, then there would be more current, which would create more flux, which would create more current, and so on

without limit. Such a situation would violate the conservation of energy and the tendency of physical systems to resist change. So the induced current will be generated in the direction that will create magnetic flux, which opposes the variation of the inducing flux. This fact is known as Lenzs law.

The relation between the change in the current through a circuit and the electromotive force it induces in itself is called the self-inductance of the circuit. If the current is given in amperes and the EMF is given in volts, the unit of self-inductance is the henry. A changing current in one circuit can also induce an electro-motive force in a nearby circuit. The ratio of the induced electromotive force to the rate of change of current in the inducing circuit is called the mutual inductance and is also measured in henrys.

## Applications

An electrical generator is an apparatus that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy. In this case the magnetic field is stationary and does not vary with time. It is the circuit that is made to rotate through the magnetic field. Since the area that admits the passage of magnetic field lines changes while the circuit rotates, the flux through the circuit will change, thus inducing a current (Figure 4). Generally, a turbine is used to provide the circuits rotation. The energy required to move the turbine may come from steam generated by nuclear or fossil fuels, or from the flow of water through a dam. As a result, the mechanical energy of rotation is changed into electric current.

Transformers are devices used to transfer electric energy between circuits. They are used in power lines to convert high voltage electricity into household current. Common devices such as radios, televisions, and power supplies of digital devices also use transformers. By making use of mutual inductance, the transformers

### KEY TERMS

Ampere A standard unit for measuring electric current.

Faradays law of induction The variation in time of the flux of a magnetic field through a surface bounded by an electrical circuit generates an electromotive force in that circuit.

Flux The flow of a quantity through a given area.

Generator A device for converting kinetic energy (the energy of movement) into electrical energy.

Henry A standard unit for measuring inductance.

Lenzs law The direction of a current induced in a circuit will be such as to create a magnetic field which opposes the inducing flux change.

Mutual inductance The ratio of the induced electromotive force in one circuit to the rate of change of current in the inducing circuit.

Right-hand rule (for electric fields generated by changing magnetic fields) With the thumb of the right hand along the direction of change of magnetic flux, the fingers curl to indicate the direction of the induced electric field.

Self-inductance The electromotive force induced in a circuit that results from the variation with time in the current of that same circuit.

Volt A standard unit of electric potential and electromotive force.

primary circuit induces current in its secondary circuit. By varying the physical characteristics of each circuit, the output of the transformer can be designed to meet specific needs.

John Appel

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# Electromagnetic induction

Electromagnetic induction is the generation of an electromotive force in a closed electrical circuit. It results from a changing magnetic field as it passes through the circuit. Some of the most basic components of electrical power systems—such as generators and transformers—make use of electromagnetic induction.

## Fundamentals

The phenomenon of electromagnetic induction was discovered by the British physicist Michael Faraday in 1831 and independently observed soon thereafter by the American physicist Joseph Henry. Prior to that time, it was known that the presence of an electric charge would cause other charges on nearby conductors to redistribute themselves. Furthermore, in 1820 the Danish physicist Hans Christian Oersted demonstrated that an electric current produces a magnetic field. It seemed reasonable, then, to ask whether or not a magnetic field might cause some kind of electrical effect, such as a current.

An electric charge that is stationary in a magnetic field will not interact with the field in any way. Nor will a moving charge interact with the field if it travels parallel to the field's direction. However, a moving charge that crosses the field will experience a force that is perpendicular both to the field and to the direction of motion of the charge (Figure 1). Now, instead of a single charge, consider a rectangular loop of wire moving

through the field. Two sides of the loop will be subjected to forces that are perpendicular to the wire itself so that no charges will be moved. Along the other two sides charge will flow, but because the forces are equal the charges will simply bunch up on the same side, building up an internal electric field to counteract the imposed force, and there will be no net current (Figure 2).

How can a magnetic field cause current to flow through the loop? Faraday discovered that it was not simply the presence of a magnetic field that was required. In order to generate current, the magnetic flux through the loop must change with time. The term flux refers to the flow of the magnetic field lines through the area enclosed by the loop. The flux of the magnetic field lines is like the flow of water through a pipe and may increase or decrease with time.

To understand how the change in flux generates a current, consider a circuit made of many rectangular loops connected to a light bulb. Under what conditions will current flow and the light bulb shine? If the circuit is pulled through a uniform magnetic field there will be no current because the flux will be constant. But, if the field is non-uniform, the charges on one side of the loop will continually experience a force greater than that on the other side. This difference in forces will cause the charges to circulate around the loop in a current that

lights the bulb. The work done in moving each charge through the circuit is called the electromotive force or EMF. The units of electromotive force are volts just like the voltage of a battery that also causes current to flow through a circuit. It makes no difference to the circuit whether the changing flux is caused by the loop's own motion or that of the magnetic field, so the case of a stationary circuit and a moving non-uniform field is equivalent to the previous situation and again the bulb will light (Figure 3).

Yet a current can be induced in the circuit without moving either the loop or the field. While a stationary loop in a constant magnetic field will not cause the bulb to light, that same stationary loop in a field that is changing in time (such as when the field is being turned on or off) will experience an electromotive force. This comes about because a changing magnetic field generates an electric field whose direction is given by the right-hand rule—with the thumb of your right hand pointing in the direction of the change of the magnetic flux, your fingers can be wrapped around in the direction of the induced electric field. With an EMF directed around the circuit, current will flow and the bulb will light (Figure 3).

The different conditions by which a magnetic field can cause current to flow through a circuit are summarized by Faraday's law of induction. The variation in time of the flux of a magnetic field through a surface bounded by an electrical circuit generates an electromotive force in that circuit.

What is the direction of the induced current? A magnetic field will be generated by the induced current. If the flux of that field were to add to the initial magnetic flux through the circuit, then there would be more current, which would create more flux, which would create more current, and so on without limit. Such a situation would violate the conservation of energy and the tendency of physical systems to resist change. So the induced current will be generated in the direction that will create magnetic flux which opposes the variation of the inducing flux. This fact is known as Lenz's law.

The relation between the change in the current through a circuit and the electromotive force it induces in itself is called the self-inductance of the circuit. If the current is given in amperes and the EMF is given in volts, the unit of self-inductance is the henry. A changing current in one circuit can also induce an electromotive force in a nearby circuit. The ratio of the induced electromotive force to the rate of change of current in the inducing circuit is called the mutual inductance and is also measured in henrys.

## Applications

An electrical generator is an apparatus that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy. In this case the magnetic field is stationary and does not vary with time. It is the circuit that is made to rotate through the magnetic field. Since the area that admits the passage of magnetic field lines changes while the circuit rotates, the flux through the circuit will change, thus inducing a current (Figure 4). Generally, a turbine is used to provide the circuit's rotation . The energy required to move the turbine may come from steam generated by nuclear or fossil fuels , or from the flow of water through a dam. As a result, the mechanical energy of rotation is changed into electric current.

Transformers are devices used to transfer electric energy between circuits. They are used in power lines to convert high voltage electricity into household current. Common consumer electronics such as radios and televisions also use transformers. By making use of mutual inductance, the transformer's primary circuit induces current in its secondary circuit. By varying the physical characteristics of each circuit, the output of the transformer can be designed to meet specific needs.

John Appel

## KEY TERMS

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ampere

—A standard unit for measuring electric current.

—The variation in time of the flux of a magnetic field through a surface bounded by an electrical circuit generates an electromotive force in that circuit.

Flux

—The flow of a quantity through a given area.

Generator

—A device for converting kinetic energy (the energy of movement) into electrical energy.

Henry

—A standard unit for measuring inductance.

Lenz's law

—The direction of a current induced in a circuit will be such as to create a magnetic field which opposes the inducing flux change.

Mutual inductance

—The ratio of the induced electromotive force in one circuit to the rate of change of current in the inducing circuit.

Right-hand rule (for electric fields generated by changing magnetic fields)

—With the thumb of the right hand along the direction of change of magnetic flux, the fingers curl to indicate the direction of the induced electric field.

Self-inductance

—The electromotive force induced in a circuit that results from the variation with time in the current of that same circuit.

Volt

—A standard unit of electric potential and electromotive force.

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# Electromagnetic induction

The term electromagnetic induction refers to the generation of an electric current by passing a metal wire through a magnetic field. The discovery of electromagnetic induction in 1831 was preceded a decade earlier by a related discovery by Danish physicist Hans Christian Oersted (17771851). Oersted showed that an electric current produces a magnetic field. That is, if you place a simple magnetic compass near any of the electrical wires in your home that are carrying a current, you can detect a magnetic field around the wires. If an electric current can produce a magnetic field, physicists reasoned, perhaps the reverse effect could be observed as well. So they set out to generate an electric current from a magnetic field.

That effect was first observed in 1831 by English physicist Michael Faraday (17911867) and shortly thereafter by American physicist Joseph Henry (17971878). The principle on which the Faraday-Henry discovery is based is shown in the figure on page 762. A long piece of metal wire is wound around a metal bar. The two ends of the wire are connected to a galvanometer, an instrument used to measure electric current. The bar is then placed between the poles of a magnet.

## Words to Know

Electric current: A flow of electrons.

Electrical generator: A device for converting mechanical (kinetic) energy into electrical energy.

Galvanometer: An instrument used to measure the flow of electric current.

Potential difference: Also called voltage; the amount of electric energy stored in a mass of electric charges compared to the energy stored in some other mass of charges.

Transformer: A device that transfers electric energy from one circuit to another circuit with different characteristics.

As long as the bar remains at rest, nothing happens. No current is generated. But moving the bar in one direction or another produces a current that can be read on the galvanometer. When the bar is moved downward, current flows in one direction through the metal wire. When the bar is moved upward, current flows in the opposite direction through the wire. The amount of current that flows is proportional to the speed with which the wire moves through the magnetic field. When the wire moves faster, a larger current is produced. When it moves more slowly, a smaller current is produced.

Actually, it is not necessary to move the wire in order to produce the electric current. One could just as well hold the wire still and move the magnetic poles. All that is necessary is the creation of some relative motion of the wire and the magnetic field. When that happens, an electric current is generated.

## Applications

Many electrical devices operate on the principle of electromagnetic induction. Perhaps the most important of these is an electrical generator. An electrical generator is a device for converting kinetic energy (the energy of an object due to its motion) into electrical energy. In a generator, a wire coil is placed between the poles of a magnet and caused to spin at a high rate of speed. One way to make the coil spin is to attach it to a turbine powered by water, as in a dam. Steam from a boiler can also be used to make the coil spin.

As the coil spins between the poles of the magnet, an electric current is generated. That current then can be sent out along transmission lines to homes, office buildings, factories, and other consumers of electric power.

Transformers also operate on the principle of electromagnetic induction. Transformers are devices that convert electric current from one potential difference (voltage) to another potential difference. For example,

the current that comes from a power plant is typically high voltage current, much higher than is needed or than can be used in household appliances. A step-down transformer uses electromagnetic induction to convert the high voltage current in power lines to the lower voltage current needed for household appliances.